Tonight’s post about fathers and custody was written by one of our Marietta Custody Attorneys, Alyssa Blanchard.
I was talking to my neighbor the other day. He told that if god-forbid he ever got a divorce, he and his wife have already decided how they would settle the matter: 1) he would pay her alimony for a period of time; 2) she could keep all of the items in the house; and 3) she would get custody of their son because there is no way he would ever get custody. “I’m a dad; dad’s don’t get custody.”
I’ve lost count of how many times I have heard this. It really does break my heart; however, I understand why dad’s feel this way. Often times, when there is a divorce involving children, custody is granted to the mother. Recently I asked myself if part of the reason that moms get custody majority of the time is that dad’s don’t seek custody because they feel as though it is a losing battle simply because they are the dad. With the many times I have heard fathers say that they would never get custody, in my office or in conversation, I can’t help but believe that part of reason why dad’s don’t get custody is because they just don’t ask.
“In all cases in which the custody of any child is at issue between the parents, there shall be no prima-facie right to the custody of the child in the father or mother. There shall be no presumption…in favor of either parent” O.C.G.A. 19-9-3(a)(1). Issues of custody are resolved and decided by the judge. The judge has a duty to “determine solely what is in the best interest of the child and what will best promote the child’s welfare and happiness and to make his or her award accordingly. O.C.G.A. 19-9-3(a)(2). There are several factors listed in O.C.G.A. 19-9-3(3) that the judge may consider in determining the best interests of the child. The judge is not limited to these factors alone and the parent’s sex is not one of the factors.
There are many things that are taken into consideration when custody is being determined. Custody is not automatically awarded to the mother just because she is the mother any more than custody is denied to the father just because he is the father. Also, if your child is 14 he or she can choose which parent they want to live with and the judge will go with their decision unless it is really not in their best interest, O.C.G.A. 19-9-3(a)(5). Iif your child is 11, 12 or 13, the judge “shall consider their desires and educational needs… in determining which parent shall have custody.” O.C.G.A. 19-9-3(a)(6)
As a father, if you are getting a divorce and want custody, you should discuss that with your attorney and understand your rights as a parent. Here at The Manely Firm we often get custody for fathers. As a father, the decision of whether to pursue custody is up to you. Make sure that your decision is informed and the best one for your children.
And if you truly do want custody, do not decide against pursuing custody just because you are a dad. You have a right to custody just as much as much as your child’s mother does. It’s statutory and Dad’s are parents too!