Father Custody

When requesting father custody, fathers will not be discriminated any more by the courts. In the early days of divorce, the general belief was that it was better for the children to stay with their mother. Today this insight is very different. In general, fathers are as fit as mothers to take care of their children.

For fathers to get custody, it is important to have a look at the Fathers Rights. But to get father custody, there is more to know. You have to know:

  • Whether you are fit for custody or not
  • The type of custody you want; single or joint custody
  • The legal steps you have to go through
  • The criteria used by the judge to assign father custody
  • How to maximize your chances

Those subjects are explained in this article.

The process to get Father Custody

Are you fit for custody?

First of all, ask yourself if you are really up to the custody responsibility. If you have multiple children or a very busy job with long and irregular working hours, you must be honest to yourself. Are you really up to the job of custodian parent? What will it bring your children? Or do you make some personal offers to change your situation in favor of the father custody and your children?

Single custody or joint custody?

Do you go for single custody or for joint custody? Single custody is harder to get. Unless the ground of your divorce is violence, judges favor joint custody above single custody. Ask yourself: what is the best situation for the children?

If your wife thinks different about how to raise your children, it does not have to be a bad thing. You can do both your ways in a shared custody situation. Your children will experience 2 different ways of living and 2 different points of view. That is a good thing, because they will learn about 2 different ways of living.

The legal steps to get father custody after the divorce are:

  1. Find the correct Family Court
  2. Go to the clerck's office
  3. Ask the form you want
  4. Fill out the form and return it to the court
  5. Get a "summons" from the family court. This is a document to inform the other parent that there will be a court hearing about you custody request.
  6. Get a copy of the form that you filed at the court
  7. Let the copy of the form and the summons must be delivered to the other parent by the sherrif or constable
  8. Prepare yourself for the hearing - see the tips below
  9. Attend the hearing
  10. Wait for the decision of the judge

It is wise to hire a family lawyer to support you during the process. This will increase your chances.

In Canada:

Find the court that is closest to where your children live (the court that has jurisdiction). Aks the court about the process for starting an application. In some courts you can fill in and file the required documents yourself. In others you have to involve a lawyer. You have to fill in a so called "Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children".

The criteria used by the judge to assign father custody

  • Best interests of the child
  • Father's relationship with the child
  • Child's wishes
    Not every court takes the wishes of the child into account, but most of them do. The court can decide to hear the motivation of the child itself. The factors playing a role are: the age and the maturity of the child and the ability of the child to make it's own well motivated decisions.
  • The child wants to stay with its brothers and sisters
  • The presence of domestic violence
  • Lack of relationship between father and child
  • Father's ability to support the child
  • Not married fathers / Paternity
  • Financial resources
  • The other parent's wishes
  • Co-parenting before single parenting

How to maximize your chances

  • Present complete and proper documentation
  • Behave correctly in the court room
  • Respect the court room dress code: wear a suit and a tie
  • Pay your Child Support strictly
    In case of payment problems, ask for a modification
  • Keep records of your visitiation schedule
  • Attend important school events
  • Make a room for your child at home
  • Make a parenting plan
    address the most important issues:
    education, health care and insurance, safety, transition, financials, after school care, religion
  • Know the medical records of your child
  • Know the details of how your child is doing in school, know who your child's teachers are
  • Know his or her friends are and what sports and activities your child is in
  • Let the court know that you understand that it is important that the child has contact with both its parents


Mediation is an alternative for the court to get father custody. Of course, mediation can be used only if you want to obtain joint custody. For single custody it does not work.

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