Can Primary Parenting Father Retain Custody?

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Dear Esq.,


I’m hoping you can send me in the right direction. I’m a single parent who has had primary custody of my five year old son for the past four and a half years. My ex-wife has now decided it is time to be a mother and is taking me to court next month to try to obtain custody.

Do you know of any resources for fathers where I can find any useful advice or information? I will of course be represented by counsel. I’m just very concerned about losing my son and am looking for any facts, figures, or advise that may help keep this from happening.



Dear Jim,

You don’t say whether the custody you currently have is simply how it ended up, without it going through the court, or whether there is a court order.

Generally speaking, if you currently have a court order granting you custody, and your ex-wife has suddenly reappeared on the scene, and is attempting to have the order modified, then, depending on what state you are in, it should be fairly difficult for your ex-wife to have custody reversed. This is by no means a given, however, and it is important that you work with an attorney who understands what is involved in representing a father in such a case.

You should also be aware that even though it may be difficult for your ex-wife to reverse custody, she will likely be entitled to some sort of regular timeshare. You should not only anticipate this, but should be agreeable to it, absent good cause to the contrary, as if you are unwilling to let your ex-wife spend time with your son under a timeshare agreement, the court may be more likely to consider her request to change custody.

If there is no court order, then her chances may be slightly greater, and in large part it will depend on how each side of the case is presented to the court. In this case, it will be very important that your lawyer and you prepare your case so that you can present much of the same evidence to the court which you would have during an initial custody determination. Along with this, you will also want to include evidence of how you have cared for your son for the past four and a half years, how these circumstances came to be, and why it would be detrimental to your son to suddenly have custody changed. Again, be mindful that the court will want to see evidence of your willingness to allow mother and child time together; if the court thinks that you are unwilling to allow them time together at all, the court will be more likely to consider switching custody.

As for resources, it is rather difficult to offer any specific recommendations without knowing where you are. Try linking up to local single parent and fathers’ organizations, as well as the local chapters of similar national groups. One such national organization is the Children’s Rights Council (202-547-6227).


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1 thought on “Can Primary Parenting Father Retain Custody?

  1. This is just about the samething that my son is about to go thru. He has raised his 5 yr old daughter with the help of his mother and father and now his ex-girlfriend has wanted to become a mother and has took the child and tells my son when and where he can have her. He wants the child to have both her and him in her life but she puts the child in the middle and wants money and if he does not give it to her she will tell him that he cannot have the child. He has paid for the child to have insurance and he has paid for all her close and everything else that the child need’s at one time she told my son that she could not afford the child and told him that he could have all rights but my son did not want to do that to her and his daughter he knows how important it is for a child to have both parents in their life. He just received paper work from the Kalamazoo county friend of the court and he has called them and asked them what that is about but they said that they did not have any record of it at the time he called. He asked the childs mother to go thru a mediator and she told him no that she had an lawyer and was going to take him to court. He is trying to be the bigger person and is wanting what is best for the child. Like I said he has gave the childs mother money so that she could have her phone turned on so that he can talk to his daughter and he has paid her for other things but I know that he has kept insurance on his daughter and has paid for everything that she has to have to go to school. I just want him to have the best advise he can before going to court and a good lawyer he does not have a lot of money and I do not either but I am going to help as much as I can. Any help that you can do will be very thankful. Thank you for your time. God Bless.

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