What are the chances of a father winning custody of children?
There has been a historic problem in the family court with Judges favouring mothers over fathers, as it was thought they would be more capable of caring for the children of the family. When two parents cannot agree where their children should live, or if one parent fears the other cannot care for the children properly, they have the option of taking the matter to Court. The Court hears both parties, and after several hearings a decision will be made about where the children live (also called custody) and when they see the non-resident parent.
Why would a father seek custody?
There are therefore usually two situations in which a father would seek custody, the first being if the parties have separated and the father just wants to have the children with him, and the second being if the father has a genuine concern about the children’s welfare when living with their mother.
Considering the welfare of the children
Following the Children & Families Act 2014, and there is now a clear presumption that children will benefit from spending as much time with each of their parents as possible. The starting point is that both parents will spend time with the children, but when the Court look at who the children lives with, they have to consider their welfare and if that accommodation meets the children’s needs.
If a father seeks custody because he wants the children to live with him, he needs to show that he is more capable of meeting those children’s needs and that their life will be better with him. The court will send a representative to view his property, speak to him and the children, and repeat the process at the mother’s property. They will then guide the Court as to the best decision to make.
Many fathers can feel frustrated at this process, but if the guidance given to the Court is not good enough, it can be challenged and the representative can be cross-examined in Court. It is difficult to determine whether a father would be successful without knowing the detail of the case, but from experience if there are no clear welfare concerns, fathers tend to find it harder to justify why the children should live with them and it is often assumed by the Court that the children will live with their mother by default.
Fathers will tend to be more successful in winning custody of the children where there is evidence that the children are not cared for effectively by the mother. In this case, the same process as above applies, but the difference is that the parents are not equal in their ability to care for the children and the father will be trying to show he is the better placed carer. There are many different reasons why a mother would have the children removed, perhaps because of mental illness, inability to encourage the contact between father and child, or the children receive a lower standard of care when they are with their mother. If the Court are satisfied that the allegations made against a mother are true, then it is likely the father would be given custody of the children and they would spend time with their mother instead.
At Watson Thomas Solicitors we have successfully represented fathers in the past who were seeking full custody of their children. In these circumstances our clients are usually successful because there is evidence that the mother was not able to care for the children or encourage time between our client and the children.
If you would like to discuss your case further, please contact us for a free initial meeting on 01252 622 422.