Family courts today have navigated away from awarding custody to the mother simply because she is a woman. There once existed an extreme bias in custody proceedings that granted custody of children to women, assuming they were the most logical and capable caregivers of dependent children. These days, divorcing dads have just as many rights in retaining custody as moms do. If a man desires to obtain full custody of his children, the court is obligated to determine why awarding him full custody is in the best interest of his children.
Mother is Deemed Unfit
A father can get full custody of his children if the mother is deemed unfit to care for the children. Family courts decide custody disputes on a case by case basis. Under some circumstances, a mother may be seen as unfit if she abuses drugs or alcohol, she has a documented history of violence and criminal activity, or the mother's lifestyle and character is thought to be detrimental to the growth and development of the child.
Child is in Danger
A father has the right to protect his child from harm. If he is made aware that the mother is involved in behaviour that can physically or emotionally threaten the child's safety, the courts may award him full custody---either permanently or temporarily until the dangerous behaviour is corrected. Also, if the mother is involved with a person that physically or emotionally threatens the child's safety, custody can be granted to the father in an effort to protect the child from further injury.
Interference with Existing Custody Orders
Parents are obligated to adhere to custody orders and parenting time as determined by the court. If a mother selfishly violates a father's right to have access to his children during scheduled visits, she is in violation of a court order. If it is proven that the continual interference has affected the father's relationship with the child, the court may award custody of the child to the father so that the relationship can be maintained.
Father Encourages the Mother-Child Relationship
In an effort to preserve a healthy relationship between parents and their children, courts are more willing to award custody to the parent that is most willing to encourage a healthy relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. If a father is able to prove that he will do (or has done) a better job at ensuring the child maintains a significant relationship with their mother, a court may award him full custody.
The Child's Preference
If it is the child's wish to remain with his father, the courts may grant full custody to the father. Several factors are considered before honouring a child's preference for which parent they prefer to live with. The child's maturity level will be examined as will their reasons for wanting to stay with their father. In some states, the preference of children under a certain age will not be taken into consideration because the courts feel they are not capable of making such decisions on their own. In other states, children above a certain age, usually fourteen, have the absolute right to determine which parent they would prefer to live with.