What are Father's Custody Rights?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2019
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Father’s custody rights are those rights defined by law and by each individual custody case determining the degree to which a fathers hold custody of children. Custody refers to the ability to make decisions regarding the child and usually assumes the child is part or full-time resident with the father. There are also father’s rights movements in many countries that address this issue and advocate for fairer treatment of father custody suits in the courts. The rights that are requested may be different, since jurisdiction determines how favorably fathers are viewed by the legal system.

In places like the US, custody decisions do tend to more often favor mothers, which can discourage those fathers who truly want father’s custody rights. Greater awareness is helping to change this, but there are reasons why courts hold this prejudice, as many mothers are principal caretakers. This isn’t always true, and stay at home dads, or dads who simply feel the quality of care of the children in the mother’s custody is poor, typically are legally entitled to fight for custody rights, especially if the parents can’t mutually decide what to do.


The ideal arrangement, where both parents are loving and involved, is shared custody. In these cases, a child might head back and forth between houses on a structured schedule, but no matter where the child was living, both parents would continue to share decision-making ability in the child’s life. They would decide where the children go to school, agree to medical treatment, sign field trip slips, and determine all of the other things that require parent permission.

The other options in father’s custody rights include suing for full custody, where the mother becomes the non-custodial parent. Alternately, some fathers don’t gain custody, but instead get some form of visitation rights that are defined by the court. The degree to which rights are granted can depend on a variety of factors, including skill of lawyers, prejudices of the court, father’s and mother’s behavior, and possibly decisions by children old enough to determine where they want to live.

What would be most advised to fathers, if they cannot work out arrangements with mothers of their children to achieve father's custody rights, is to get legal representation and to present a strong case why they deserve full custody or shared custody arrangements. Ideally, courts should consider the merits of each case without respect toward traditional male/female roles when it comes to child rearing.

The worst scenario occurs when people attempt to get custody rights not for the sake of parenting children, but with the intent of wounding the other parent. Favorable prejudice toward mothers in courts may be no more common than this scenario. While from a legal standpoint, father’s custody rights are about continuing to be a fully involved parent in a child’s life, but from a personal and moral standpoint, asking for custody should always concern how continued involvement is in the best interests of the child. Any parent asking for custody should feel completely convinced that they do so with this sole focus.



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