Crystal Wright | December 17, 2021 | Child Custody
Child custody laws are changing. When parents disagreed over a custody arrangement in the past, the law favored the mother. It was assumed that a mother was the primary caretaker and better fit to care for the child’s well-being.
This is no longer the case. Child custody laws have increasingly moved toward viewing both parents as equally important to the child’s well-being and equally capable of caring for a child.
Fathers Have Equal Rights
In the state of Georgia, neither parent is given custody preference based on gender alone.
Instead, a variety of factors go into a judge’s decision when making a custody ruling. After considering all of the evidence presented, a judge will rule in favor of the parent who can provide the best living situation for the child.
One caveat to this equality is the difference between married and unmarried fathers. If a father was married to the child’s mother when the child was born, the father automatically has equal shared custody.
If the father was never married to the child’s mother, the mother has full custody, and the father has no automatic rights to custody or even visitation. However, he does have the right to petition the court for these.
The father must establish “legitimation” in order to ask the court for custody rights. Legitimation requires more than proving paternity, which merely gives a court power to enforce a father’s duty to pay child support. Legitimation gives a child the right to inherit from their father, among other things, and provides the father with the right to request child custody or visitation from the court.
However, it should be noted that a father’s custody rights are not automatic even if they establish legitimation. It is up to the court.
Tipping the Scales
Sometimes, circumstances result in a situation in which the child’s interests would best be served by being placed into the father’s full custody.
To achieve this, the father must prove to the judge that, with sole custody, he would better care for, support, and protect the child in a manner superior to sharing custody with the mother.
This type of ruling is one a judge may be hesitant to make because a judge’s role is to uphold the law as closely as possible. When the law indicates that parents should work to co-parent and equally share responsibility for the child, as Georgia law does, a judge may be reluctant to favor one parent over the other.
Your Child’s Best Interest
It’s important to remember that the law and a judge aim for the child’s best interest in all rulings. A court will make decisions on custody, visitation, and other matters according to the best interests of your child. All parents should also have their child’s well-being at heart.
Therefore, the best way to seek full custody is to provide a two-pronged argument: First, that the father is better able to provide for the child, and second, to prove the mother is unfit for even partial custody.
Unless a father can demonstrate to a judge that sole or shared custody is in their child’s best interest, they will not obtain custody rights. However, there are many possible ways this argument may be made.
In most situations, a father who is serious about pursuing full custody would need the aid of a family law attorney to help build the case and submit documentation to prove the mother should not have custody.
Contact a Family Law Attorney For Help
If you find yourself in a situation in which it is truly not in the best interest of your child to share partial custody with the mother, it may be possible to build a case to demonstrate that the mother is unfit.
The state of Georgia in particular has a low percentage of fathers with full custody. If full custody is your goal, it’s essential to procure the aid of a family law attorney to build a strong case for the best interests of your child.