The important fact to remember is that, in the majority of cases, the father will not be granted custody of the child by the courts. Individuals and groups have complained about this bias of the courts for several years, but it’s simply a fact that unless the circumstances are exceptional, the child or children will stay with their mother under a residence order, and you will be able to see them with a Contact Order.
Conditions For Father’s Custody
However, there are times when a judge will look very favourably on a father’s application for custody. Where the mother has a history of addiction to drink or drugs or an extensive history of binge drinking, which you can prove, there’s a good chance you’ll be given custody. There are solid reasons for this, since addicts often turn to crime to feed their habits, which can put the child in situations that aren’t good as he or she grows.
The courts take a similar attitude where the mother has a criminal record, at least if it’s a reasonably extensive one showing her to be a repeat offender. That applies whether she’s in jail or not (there are instances where mothers in jail can keep very young children with them, but those are few and far between).
The mother might be considered physically or emotionally incapable of raising a child. That might be due to a physical handicap, or it could be emotional instability. In those cases, the father would be given custody.
Similarly, where there’s been emotional or physical abuse of the child by the mother, and it can be proven, then the father will definitely receive custody. Sadly, abuse rates by mothers have been on the increase.
Finally, if the mother is deemed to have abandoned her children, the father will receive custody. Abandoned is classed as not being in communication with a child for a set period, whether by mail, phone, physical contact or email. Also, if she leaves with a new partner and has no contact with the children, or if she neglects the children when they’re in her care, then custody will devolve to the father.
When you have custody, you have the same rights as a mother with custody, and the mother would have Visitation Rights with the children (of course, there might be circumstances when she might be denied access). Be sure you obey the contact order fully.
Something to be aware of is that the mother can later petition the court to have the residence order changed, if she’s cleaned up her act and can prove herself to be upstanding and likely to be a good parent. Sadly, there’s a fair chance she might win, although the courts will take the wishes of the children into account.
You’d do right to feel that everything is more fragile than if you were female, since it probably is. She can always come back with her lawyer.
@bigman44 - the fact that you have the residency order in place will stand you in good stead. Yes, she may be able to take you to court, but that does not mean she will be given custody of your son. If you can show your son is settled and has a happy and consistent daily life the courts will be unwilling to disrupt this arrangement of him living with you, especially due to her past record of neglect. The courts will always decide what is in the best interests of your son and it seems like you have proved to be a good father who has his son's best interests at heart. I hope all works in your favour.
SeparatedDads - 22-May-15 @ 12:36 PM
hi, can somebody put my mind to rest.
I have a residence order for my 15month old son to live with me full time with contact to his mother, which was made jan2015 after a 10month private court proceedings.
my son was on child protection for neglect before he was born due to his mothers other children are on it for a few years before, until recently 4years in total. and he was on pre proceedings along with the other children before he was born until week before the final hearing for my private court proceedings.there is drugs and a lot of other things involved, and my son ended up with a numberof infections while in her care which she never took him to doctors. social services did there report and recommended that my son lives with me.
now after 5 months since the final hearing and decision made by the courts the mother is saying she is taking me back to court for my son. child protection has recently been drop but a very robust child in need plan is in place on her other children. can she take me to court ? im worried as my son has settled, medicals are all up to date, the routine and me goneback to work part time to accommodate him with proper child care.
bigman44 - 18-May-15 @ 9:26 PM
My son just got sole custody of my grandson. His mother after fighting him for the last 5 years just up and abandoned him and his younger sister to go with a man just out of jail. She left her house and when the council went in to clear it there was fog poo everywhere. Even in the kids bedrooms. The kids are now doing brilliantly. They have put in weight and my grandson is catching up in school as he now goes every day. They are happy and smile all the time. They talk about their mum hitting them and so on. But they will get over it in time. Long and the short of it not every child is better off with its mother. Some people just shouldn't be a lowed to look after children.
anne - 29-Apr-15 @ 11:05 AM
@poppy_1 - as specified in the article, in the majority of cases, the father will not be granted custody of the child by the courts. Individuals and groups have complained about this bias of the courts for several years, but it’s simply a fact that unless the circumstances are exceptional, the child or children will stay with their mother under a residence order, and the father will be able to see them with a Contact Order. However, there are times when a judge will look very favourably on a father’s application for custody, especially when there is a solid reason for doing so. There is really no predicting how a court will look at it, but the courts will always look at what is in the best interests of the child, and stability and consistency play a large factor in that. If it goes to court then down the line Cafcass are likely to get involved, so you might be interested in the article: What Goes into the Cafcass Family Report? link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 20-Apr-15 @ 10:07 AM
@lpoollad - thanks for your comments. I'm sure it's helpful to dads even seeking contact that the law can be on their side.
SeparatedDads - 16-Apr-15 @ 2:45 PM
Hi, my brother has a 6 year old child and his ex has custody. My nephew is behind in school and struggling educational wise. His mother is also pushing for every disabilitypossible although it has been proven he has no disability such as ADHD, autism or any other disability. I am worried that he is continuously getting put down by his mother , how can anyone progress when they are constantly getting put down by saying they have a disability when proven that he hasn't. My nephew sees his farther Every weekend without doubt and around his farther he is well behaved and I think that he would progress a lot better than he would around his mother. I am interested in to what steps and if it were difficult if a farther wanted to get custody would this be possible, or would it be a long continuous battle with no ending. Thank you
poppy_1 - 16-Apr-15 @ 12:06 PM
Hi everyone ive just come out of a 13 month court battle in the uk merseyside where i was fighting against the mother of my 2 girls i eventually won custody also i was unrepresented and she had a barrister there where some issues of domestic violence between her and partners and children where present issues of drugs etc. Basically dads push and push the system work really hard pester all professionals involved and complain if you feel you are being unfairly treated it makes a difference
lpoollad - 14-Apr-15 @ 1:31 PM
@cas - I am sorry to hear this. As specified in the article; the important fact to remember is that, in the majority of cases, the father will not be granted custody of the child by the courts. Individuals and groups have complained about this bias of the courts for several years, but it’s simply a fact that unless the circumstances are exceptional, the child or children will stay with their mother under a residence order, and you will be able to see them with a contact order. You could always discuss joint residency with your ex, hopefully she may agree. However, if it couldn't be agreed amicably and it has to go through the courts, you would need ample space in order to bring them up. So for instance if you leave your house and rent a one-bedroomed flat, then there is less likelihood the courts would agree to splitting the parenting of your children. However, the courts may favour it more than if you had enough bedrooms in your house. The most important thing to remember that everything that is decided through the courts will always be 'what is in the best interests of your children'. You may find our Separated Dads Facebook page useful, as there are a lot of postings from dads in the same or similar situation, or from those who have been through it all before and know the pitfalls. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 14-Apr-15 @ 12:19 PM
Hi I need advise on what to do next as my wife after 4 years has just suddenly finished our relationship I have asked her why and she just says it's because she is unhappy but it's not my fault we are still currently living in the same house till things get sorted as we are both joint council tenants but I'm afraid that if I move out she will gain everything our kids the house etc and I don't think this is fair that both the kids and myself should suffer because of her decision how can I go about having the kids living with me instead thank you for any advise you can give
cas - 11-Apr-15 @ 8:00 AM
@squeaky - Does your mother not have the information about what lies he may have told? Court records are closed to the public for a minimum of 30 years and only under special conditions will the Ministry of Justice allow access to court records or other restricted information. The grounds for access must be ‘substantive and sufficient to outweigh the exemption’, meaning you must have a good reason for the request.Permission must be sought from the Departmental Records Officer via the HMCS website. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 7-Apr-15 @ 12:48 PM
@squeaky - Does your mother not have the information about what lies he may have told? Court records are closed to the public for a minimum of 30 years and only under special conditions will the Ministry of Justice allow access to court records or other restricted information. The grounds for access must be ‘substantive and sufficient to outweigh the exemption’.You may be able to get permission from the Departmental Records Officer via the HMCS website. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 7-Apr-15 @ 12:47 PM
My father got custody of me my sister and brother. That was back in late 60s early 70s. Always wondered how. We were the talk of the place as never happens especially two girls and a baby. He is dead now but would never talk about it anyway my mother says he told lies. Does anyone know how I can find out?
squeaky - 3-Apr-15 @ 8:51 PM
Surely its discriminatory in this day and age for courts not to treat parents equally?
I've got a strong case against my ex but been warned by solicitor it will be an uphill struggle as the courts favour the mother. We have same sex marriages and easier adoption for gay couples but a biased outlook on dads.
Can't this website fundraise to try and set a president case? I am sure there's a human rights argument in this as well?
discriminatory - 10-Mar-15 @ 5:26 PM
Surely its discriminatory in this day and age for courts not to treat parents equally? I've got a strong case against my ex but been warned by solicitor it will be an uphill struggle as the courts father mother. We have same sex marriages and easier adoption for gay couples but a biased outlook on dads.
discriminatory - 10-Mar-15 @ 5:24 PM
@Cal - you might also want to put this question to our Separated Dads Facebook page followers - as some of them will have been through the same situation and may be able to advise. However, if she is acting responsible when your children are with her, it may go some way to being a responsible mum. The worrying thing is if your children begin to say it is affecting them, so this is when you need to keep an eye on the situation.
SeparatedDads - 3-Mar-15 @ 10:56 AM
I'm in a real sticky situation where I have two kids aged 4 and 2 with an ex partner. She is Middle aged and addicted to prescription pain killers she also binge drinks often and when under the influence has a habit of self harm and violence towards others (usually any man she is emotionally involved with). My only trouble is although she seems extremely unhinged she is very careful to cover it up. I have the kids every weekend and she only binge drinks when they are in MY care such is an important factor. As the kids are not in immediate danger because she goes to work and lives a normal life when the kids are with her (so I've been told). Then as far as this goes I feel like people would not take me seriously. If anyone has had experience with a similar case what can i do?
Cal - 27-Feb-15 @ 6:35 PM
@ConcernedMum - I don't understand here why you would want to stop him seeing them? Is it just because you are frightened he may go for custody? If this is the case, I wouldn't worry. They have had a stable upbringing by you, so therefore it would be highly unlikely that the courts would just turn around and offer him custody. The courts are only interested in what is in the best interests of the child and that includes stability. I think you will cause more problems and would have a bigger fight on your hands if you tried to stop him seeing them.
Gray - 25-Feb-15 @ 10:57 AM
In a pickle which is worrying me.I have sole custody of my 2 children, father sees them when he feels like it.I have just found out that his partners children have been awarded sole custody to their father, mother sees them once every 2 weeks (CAFCAS where involved with this decision) . My ex has not been interested in his kids for over 11 years, and has paid me maintenance when he feels like it (possible 2k in 11 yrs).My divorce was on the ground of domestic violence and he is a threat to society as far as I am concerned.My children have, since the start of the year been seeing their dad every few weeks (which I was worried about why the interest in them).Does anyone have any idea how I go about finding out about the recent court case regarding custody and if I can stop him from seeing'my' kids. I am worried sick. I do not deny them to see him, and I do not deny parental responsibility/access. I would love them to have a relationship with their dad, but this has now freaked me out as a loving doting and concerned mum.They are my world.
ConcernedMum - 22-Feb-15 @ 11:18 PM
@Grant - regardless of what income comes into her house and whether she is being done for 'fraud', your child will still benefit from spending half of the time with her mother, so I would keep things even for the moment, unless you are concerned about the welfare of your child. A child needs both parents.
Kat - 27-Jan-15 @ 2:28 PM
Hi I have recently split with the mother to my child. With have been to court just last Thursday and we have filed a final order granting me shared custody. I have been given information by my ex that she no longer has any kind of income coming into her house part from her new partner wages. Who hasn't known the child very long just 4 months.
I am commenting today to ask whether I have any grounds to apply for full custody. Also she is being investigated by the fraud team for fraud.
Grant - 26-Jan-15 @ 4:33 PM
@Davey - you may find our Separated Dads Facebook page helpful if you are looking for support and advice, there are many fathers battling with the same problems. Also on there there is a recent posting with lots of recent advice from fathers who are not entitled to legal aid court and are representing themselves. We also have an article Legal Aid Withdrawal: How to Represent Yourself link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jan-15 @ 11:37 AM
I currently have a good court granted custody order in place but I am still not happy as although by the letter of the Law my ex is not a bad mother in my eyes she is not a good one. Obviously without proof I can not change anything and as my daughter is under 5 the courts can not ask her but I truly believe my ex only wants our daughter for her own selfish needs and does not put the child first. My daughter is 4 and started nursery on 1st Sept she has not been there for a full week since 22nd-26th Sept as my ex constantly just keeps her off so she has company and claims the child is sick. She constantly dresses her inappropriately for the weather often without a vest and in things like tights and shorts when it is freezing outside. My daughter also always says that she doesn't eat dinner so I believe she just lets her eat junk and sweets throughout the day rather than set meals. My ex's then claims I am disruptive to the child’s routine and takes me to court to try and take away my midweek contact. What routine is this when she doesn't even have the child in one? It is just constant lies to try and get what she wants and because the courts are so bias my side is never even heard. Last year I took my daughter on holiday and when I gave her back suddenly me & my family were suspected of abuse and lost contact for a month while it was investigated which of course it came back fine but we still lost contact for that time and no repercussions come as my ex was supposedly just be careful mother, this year I took her to Euro Disney and when I gave her back again I was then told I couldn't see her for a week as it was now the mother's holiday time with no vacation planned and no notice, after consulting my solicitor and being told to collect as normal I tried only to be refused and dragged to court myself on a non-molestation order stating I was verbally abusive when I was not but had no proof on the contrary. As a Brucey bonus I also have to pay for court every time while she gets it all free so it feels like I'm paying to get slapped in the face. I think the family court system is a complete joke and does not look at the complete picture before making rulings and is totally bias and unfair towards fathers. I know I can not change anything at least until my daughter is older and can maybe speak for herself I just have to hope her mother does not corrupt her before it’s too late. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest as it is just hard to accept, especially as if it was the other way round the courts would act totally different.
Davey - 29-Dec-14 @ 3:36 PM
@jimbo - have a look at our Separated Dads Facebook page, there is a piece with lots of helpful advice about representing yourself in court. You say you don't have a home, are you living anywhere currently? If not you need to approach your local council for emergency ousing if you're homeless. You can see the link here.In the meantime you could visit Citizens Advice for some free advice on how best to proceed with a case for a residence order see link here.
SeparatedDads - 15-Dec-14 @ 2:56 PM
I need some advice please. I got a 3yr old son with my separated wife bit she also had 2 kids before I met her I'm on the birth certificate. She has got social services chasing her due to actual neglect and un explained injuries and more, since I found out in may this year that all 3 kids are on a child protection plan she has stopped me from seeing my son (infact all 3 kids) this is the second time her oldest 2 have been on it but the first time for my son, anyway I received a letter 2 days ago saying that it was the letter before court proceedings and I've been told by the social worker that I need to go to the meeting with a solicitor. I want to fight for full custody of my boy but I don't have a house of my own could my local council still help me get a place / emergency housing if I get full custody and I work nights so would I still be able to get help with child care or would I have to work days while hes at nursery / pre school. I just need some help and advice I only got a few days left till the meeting but all I no I I want my son living with me,I used to have a good relationship with her other 2 kids but after I left she turned them against me
jimbo - 13-Dec-14 @ 10:17 PM
@concerned - Sometimes children have a rosy perspective of the other parent as they are not the one doing the day-to-day caring. However, the reality is often very different. Unfortunately, as we are a UK-based site, we can only advise on what is best to do with regards to UK law and how you can get help here. Wishing you the best of luck.
SeparatedDads - 10-Dec-14 @ 10:23 AM
@mhalse - I will direct you to our partner site When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access link here. It should tell you the stages you have to go through. I think in the first instance you should go for a contact order and then take it from there to see whether you can get shared caring. We also have a Separated Dads Facebook page which may provide practical information as it includes fathers with their own stories to tell about how they have got around access rights.
SeparatedDads - 9-Dec-14 @ 2:24 PM
I have had custody of my children for over seven years now. i was awarded custody due to my exwifes new boyfriend. after 4 years she has finally left him and tried to get back on right track. for the last 3 years she has been throwing child protective services at me and everytime they are false alligations. recently she has been been trying to coherse our 10 year old daughter into wanting to live with her. she is telling our daughter that when she turns 12 years old that she will be able to live with her, i live in texas. And it is also starting to affect my 9 year old son. but now she is pushing for me to let my daughter and son move back in with her and i am having a hard time keeping the respect of my daughter. out of 7 years my ex has only made 2 child support payments, equaling less than what she is suppose to pay per month. she is currently serving every other weekend for a total of 180 days due to failure to pay child support. what am i capable of doing. i can no longer afford a lawyer due to all the times i have had to hire one. any help would be appreciated.
concerned - 8-Dec-14 @ 6:59 PM
Hi there im seeking advice on what to do in my situation iv currently got a 4 year old daughter, Elisha my names not currently on the birth cert i had to do the DNAroute to find out she was mine im with a different partner now for the best part of a year now an my daughter has grown to like her so things have been goin well but just recently the babys mother has snapped at me basically saying im no longer seeing my daughter an this has crushed me inside cos now i feel like the babys mum doesn't want me to be happy or be with a new partner so im thinking of going for a contact order to try an get my daughter to stay with me an my family as well as my partner but im scared of things going wrong an potentially loose everything could some1 give me advice on what steps im best taking cos the situation being so close to x mas has destroyed my mother myself an my partner
mhalse87 - 8-Dec-14 @ 3:15 PM
@Meg The Parent Connection may be able to help you further. They have a page on proposed laws and may have may have more information via their website on what new legislation is in the pipeline. link here .
SeparatedDads - 24-Nov-14 @ 11:10 AM
Hello, I am doing a research paper on the importance of the fathering role on children and child development at university and I was hoping to find out if you had any information on dates for when new legislation came in to the uk regarding fathers getting custody of their children and anything that is pending for this.
Any information would be extremely helpfull.
Many thanks, Meg