Though times are changing in divorce and family court, they’re changing quite slowly.  While mothers still get considerable favoritism when comes to primary and sole custody  – even when dad is a fit, available, involved, loving and caring parent, too often it still doesn’t matter.  Shared parenting does work in cases where logistics allow it and there are no issues regarding a parent’s fitness for duty.

For unwed fathers, however, the statistics remain fairly grim.  However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up before you even get started going for meaningful child custody after a divorce.  Unwed mothers obtain primary or sole custody in even higher numbers and the uphill battle will be a steep one.

The facts behind these numbers are fairly simple.  In many cases, the pregnancy is unplanned.  Yes, sometimes in those cases, the father isn’t interested in being a parent or seeking child custody and bails out.. In other cases, dad is rather young and shared custody isn’t a realistic possibility.  In those cases, the young, unwed mother retains custody of the child and lives with family.   Those realities make up the bulk of such child custody outcomes.

However, if your situation doesn’t fall into those categories, and you’re willing to put forth and effort, your chances have increased greatly. In your situation, you must be an active participant (or attempting to be so) in the child’s life.  Know everything about your child.  Establish and maintain routines.  Take a parenting class and do well.  If you are dedicated to being a good parent and demonstrative of the same – the likelihood of getting increasing parenting time with your child becomes significantly greater.

Other tips include:

  • Obtaining letters from daycare providers or teachers to demonstrate your involvement.
  • Know the coaches of their extracurricular activities.  Even better – be a coach!
  • Volunteer at school.
  • Do everything you can to be involved in every facet of your child’s life.  Get records and maintain them.  Document everything.

Active involvement and good parenting will greatly increase your chances of obtaining at least partial child custody, which can be increased as your child gets older (if they’re young now).  The younger the child is the more the courts want to see a routine. When that routine is established (status quo), it becomes difficult to change.

As an unwed father, take care of yourself, be involved, be responsible, and your child your odds of getting generous parenting time are very good. Always remain focused on the benefits of the child and avoid conflict with the child’s mother.