If you are a father seeking custody of your child or children, your chances of succeeding are much higher today than they would have been 40 to 50 years ago. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the courts began to replace the old “Tender Years Doctrine” (which almost always determined the mother to be the only proper caretaker for children 13 years and under) to determinations based solely on the “best interests of the child.”
By its very name, the current guideline cannot be determined by gender alone. This has opened the way for major changes in the family court system. Previously, fathers who wished to have custody of their children had to fight a costly uphill custody battle to prove the mother to be “unfit.” Today, not only can fathers seek and expect to have a chance to gain custody of their children, but same-sex parents also can expect to have equal rights to custody.
Because of this change, the form of custody arrangement that has become most popular is that of joint custody. This type of custody allows both parents the opportunity to share in the upbringing of their children and enables children to have access to both of their parents on a regular basis. Now more fathers are able to have a direct impact on the lives of their children rather than just receiving visitation rights and paying support. It is at last understood that both parents have very important roles to play in the healthy emotional, psychological and physical development of their children.
Of course, not all custody and visitation arrangements are mutually acceptable to both parents and this can easily lead to emotionally heated court battles over child custody. The family court system is set up to handle all kinds of situations but a long, drawn-out court battle should be avoided at all costs. Both parents must be mature adults who are willing to put their children’s needs first over their own. The emotional, physical and financial drain on the members of a former family unit involved in a child custody battle can be devastating.
The welcome change in how the law determines the outcome of child custody cases has made a major shift in favor of the equal rights of both parents to their children. This shift has allowed both parents to share in making important life decisions for their children. It has also given fathers especially, more of an incentive to file for custody of their children if they feel they are the parent that can provide for the “best interests of their child or children.” This can be a win-win decision for everyone involved.
If you are faced with or involved in a child custody suit, find out what initial steps you must take, especially if you are a father and you feel you would like to pursue final custody.
If you are going through child custody proceedings, make sure to put your children first.

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