Quite often fathers do not look obtain custody of their child as they feel the law favours mothers. Our family lawyers discuss how a father can get full custody of their child.
Can fathers get full custody of a child
We often hear about mothers refusing custody of their children to fathers and not allowing fathers with any contact or access to their children. Understandably a lot fathers do not consider making an application for the custody of their child on the understanding that the law favours mothers. The law does not favour mothers and providing a father is the best placed parent to look after and care for a child they are likely to succeed in obtaining custody for their child.
How can a dad get the full custody of a child?
When parents are separating or have separated the courts will attempt where possible to ensure the child receives their right of having access to both parents. It is important to note that this is the right of the child rather than the right of the parents.
Although the courts promote shared parenting, where there is clear evidence of one parent not being in a position to adequately care for a child or there is a risk that the child’s welfare and best interests are likely to be affected the courts can look to award custody to one parent. Quite commonly people feel that mothers will always be awarded custody of their child. This is incorrect, the law is not biased towards mothers and does not favour them. Providing a father is able to demonstrate that they are better placed than the mother to bring up their child they can also obtain custody of their child.
In order to consider obtaining custody of a child, a father must be named on the birth certificate of the child or establish their parental responsibility. Once he is able to establish this they can make an application to the court for custody of their child.
Can an unmarried father obtain custody of a child?
The legal rights and responsibilities of an unmarried father differ from the rights of a married one.
An unmarried one will not have any legal rights over a child unless he is named on the birth certificate, enters into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or obtains parental responsibility through a court application. Without acquiring parental responsibility of their child an unmarried father will not be able to make an application to the court for the custody of a child.
What steps does a father need to take to obtain custody of their child?
In order to obtain custody of a child, a father can initially try and contact the mother of the child to try and reach an agreement. If an agreement can be reached amicably then this can avoid the need for making an application to the court and can save both time and costs on legal fees.
Not all parents remain on amicable terms, in such circumstances he can seek the assistance of a mediator or family lawyers to try and promote discussions to see whether an amicable agreement can be reached. If no agreement can be reached then the only way for a father to secure custody of their child may be through making an application to the family court.
How can a father apply to secure the custody of their child?
If mediation or reaching an agreement has not been possible, then you may wish to consider making an application to the family court. The courts will require you to complete a form C100 for child arrangements and submitting this with a statement in support together with an application fee.
Once the application is received by the court this will then be issued and the matter will be listed for an initial hearing to determine whether an agreement can be reached. Prior to the final hearing, the courts may direct a local authority or Cafcass to undertake assessment and reviews to find out whether the father who is making the application is well equipped to look after the child and there are no welfare or safeguarding concerns.
When making a decision on child custody the courts will take into account the following factors:
- The best wishes of the child concerned;
- The physical and emotional needs of the child;
- Educational needs of the child in question;
- The child’s characteristics i.e. age, sex and background
- Whether the child is at risk of any harm, and
- The parents capability in caring for the child and bringing them up
What must the father prove when making an application for child custody
A father who is looking to win child custody rights for their child must be able to prove the following:
- Paternity – in order to obtain custody a father must have acknowledged paternity by either being named on the child’s birth certificate, obtaining a written agreement from the mother or acknowledging paternity during court proceedings.
- Relationship with the child – Before awarding custody the courts will looking into the fathers relationship with the child. The father must be able to prove that they have been present within their child’s life and demonstrate how they have supported the child. If a parent has not been in contact with the child or failed to support them then this can affect the fathers application to child custody.
- Their capability of looking after the child – in order to successfully pursue full custody of their child a father must be able to demonstrate to the court how they are the best parent to care for and maintain the child. If there is any evidence of the mother neglecting the child or putting the child at risk of harm then this must be effectively presented to the court for them to consider.
Top tips for fathers who are looking to obtain custody of their child
With the help of Kabir Family Law we have compiled a few helpful tips for a father who is looking to obtain custody of their child:
- Continue making child support payments regardless of whether or not the mother allows you to have any contact with the child.
- Ensure you are obtaining custody for the right reasons. A father should look to obtain custody of their child if they feel they are the best placed parent to care for their child. They should not simply consider obtaining custody in order to obtain revenge from the mother. There could be serious consequences if the court concludes that the fathers motives for making an application are powered by other reasons other than the welfare of the child.
- Consider seeking legal advice. Quite often fathers do not have the knowledge and understanding of their rights and may not be able to prepare adequately for any custody hearings. You should consider obtaining legal advice to ensure you are aware of the requirements and to assess the prospects of you succeeding in an application for child custody.