Once upon a time, if you got divorced, the mother would get custody of the children. That was considered normal. Nowadays, there are many cases where a judge awards custody to a father.

The law treats mothers and fathers equally when deciding child custody. Yet, old beliefs can die hard. If you are a father who wants custody of your children, you may have to work harder to convince the Gwinnett County judge that it’s the right decision for your child.  

Let’s clarify custody first: There iare two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Most judges award joint legal custody to divorcing parents. You and your spouse will share responsibility for the big decisions in your child’s life, such as which school they attend. Judges are not concerned about smaller decisions, such as whether your daughter can eat pizza three nights a week, or what age your son can pierce his eyebrow.

Physical custody determines whom your child lives with. Again, it can be shared. Most often the parent who has been the primary caretaker will be awarded primary physical custody.  However there are many children who successfully spend one week at mom’s house and one week at dad’s, but the judge has to be sure this is in the child’s best interests.  If there is a great deal of conflict between the parties, a judge may not order joint physical custody.   This type of custody arrangement requires a great deal of communication and good co-parenting between the parties.  

So, if you are trying to gain sole legal custody, you will need strong reasons, such as the other party has drug problems or abuses the child.

If you are a father trying to win physical custody, because you want your child to live with you and because you have played a primary role as caretaker in his or her life, make sure you come across as an exemplary father. Attend those school meetings, know how you’ll fit work around your child and ensure they have their own space in your house.