Legally speaking, child custody should always be determined as per the best interests of the child. However, there is a tendency for courts to award custody to mothers as opposed to fathers. If you are a stay-at-home dad while the mother is a working parent, it makes sense that you are in a better position watch over the child as compared to your partner, but don't expect automatic custody because of this. Use these tips to increase your chances of getting custody:
Be Involved In All Aspects of Your Child's Life
Merely being a stay-at-home dad won't help you much if you aren't involved in the child's life. For example, you may be a stay-at-home dad who doesn't care about their child's school performance or constantly leaves the child alone without supervision. You need to be involved in all aspects of your child's life including their education, their hobbies, and health, among others.
It is not just enough to be that involved, however, you should also be ready to prove your level of involvement. For example, you should have witnesses who can testify as to your involvement with the child's life.
Be the First to File for Custody
Filing your custody request first may also help you in the long run. It may allow you to air your concerns or requests first, which may set the tone for the subsequent deliberations. Many child custody lawyers can use the advantage to increase your chances of winning.
Make Use of De Facto Custody Situation
If the other parent hasn't been involved much in the life of the child, then it is as if you have been having custody of the child all along. Maybe the other parent moved out of the house or has been absent (for example away on business trips) for a long time. Take advantage of the situation and prove to the court that you have been successful in taking care of the child on your own for a long time and that the child's welfare will be better met by letting the situation continue as it is.
Include the Other Parent in the Child's Life
Lastly, don't attempt to exclude the mother of the child from their child's life. Don't do it even if the mother has been absent from the child's life for some time; welcome her back (as far as the child's life is concerned) when she comes back. One of the easiest ways of derailing your custody battle is to alienate the other parent; it is dangerous because courts know that kids are better off with both parents in their lives.
For more information, contact a family lawyer near you.