If you are a single father, you may be wondering whether it is possible to obtain full custody of your child. Some single fathers worry that the court will automatically grant custody to the child's mother out of a misconception that women are inherently more nurturing than men.
Fortunately, Texas courts are prohibited from discriminating against fathers. If you are petitioning for sole custody of your child, you should be on equal footing with your spouse. While every case is different, it is very possible for fathers to be granted custody of their children, and I have participated in many cases in which that has been the result.
When might a court grant sole custody?
The court will make the custody decision that it feels is in the child's best interests. Although many judges prefer to award joint custody whenever possible, pursuant to the Texas Family Code statutory presumption in favor of joint managing conservatorship ("JMC"), there are some situations in which joint custody is not in the best interests of the child. Sometimes, it is best if only one parent has "sole" physical and legal custody. Generally, a court will award sole custody to one parent if the other parent does not pursue custody or if there are extenuating circumstances such as abuse, addiction, incarceration, or severe mental illness.
What the court will consider for single fathers
The court is supposed to take all child custody cases very seriously and carefully consider several factors. The court will want to know whether it is truly in the child's best interests for the mother to have less than JMC. Some of the factors the judge may consider include:
- The child's relationship with the mother and with you
- Your relationship with the child's mother
- The ability of you and your ex-partner to care for the child
- Whether the child's mother has an addiction or mental illness that prevents her from properly caring for the child
- Whether your ex was physically or emotionally abusive to you or to the child
Since each case is unique, the professional advice of an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney can be valuable in assessing all legal questions available to you in your own case.