If you’re a dad who wants sole or full custody of your children, you may wonder if the court is going to be biased against you and unfairly favor the mom in awarding custody. That’s the popular perception, but it’s wrong. Take heart in knowing the situation isn’t without hope because the laws are neutrally written in Washington. Plus, it’s generally acknowledged (these days) that fathers are just as capable of raising children as mothers.
Courts aren’t allowed to show bias, and fathers are supposed to have the same parental rights as mothers in custody proceedings. If you can prove that you are the more fitting parent — noting your steady employment, time invested in the children’s lives and your excellent character references — you do have a fighting chance of winning custody.
Although the court generally prefers to establish a joint custody arrangement, there are circumstances in which full custody is awarded to a single parent. Oftentimes, these conditions will involve a dangerous situation in the other household, such as:
- Domestic violence
- Mental illness
- Alcohol or drug abuse
If the mom is also filing for full custody rights, it’s important you be ready for the court battle.
During a child custody proceeding in Washington, the court considers several factors to decide which parent will be granted custody. You should acknowledge your paternity of the children, either by signing their birth certificates or via a paternity proceeding in court to establish your legal rights. Also, have a positive relationship with the children and be prepared to explain to the court the value of that relationship.
The court will also consider your children’s relationship with their mom and may be hesitant to interfere with the existing custody arrangement if it seems to be working well enough already. This is especially true if the mom is the primary caretaker of the children and always has been. The court’s priority is determining what is best for the children, and it may also take into consideration the wishes of the kids.
If the mom could be a potential liability to the children’s welfare, that could give you a credible argument to be granted sole custody. Evidence is required to prove the unhealthy situation, and you should be as prepared as possible when you head into court.
Needless to say, court proceedings can be really complicated. It’s important you know your legal rights when it comes to child custody and seek out advice from an experienced and understanding local Everett attorney.