If you are an unwed father, seeking custody of your child can be a challenging process. Here are some tips to help you build a strong case for yourself.
Establish that You are the Father
You may think that signing the birth certificate establishes paternity, but because you not married to your child's mother, you may still have to take certain steps to prove that you are legally the father of the child you want custody of. You may need to seek a paternity test, for example. Check with your local family court to see what the requirements are in your particular state, so that you can then request custody.
Keep a Journal
In order to show that you are responsible and involved with your child's upbringing, keep a journal of all the time you spend together. Note when you pick up your child, when you drop your child off, and what kind of activities you two do together.
You might also want to keep track of money that you are spending as well. Even if your child's mother is receiving court-ordered child support, it may help your case to show that you are spending above and beyond what the order requires.
Make Sure Your Home is Safe
To earn custody of your child, one of the things you need to prove is that you have a safe, suitable environment for your child to live in. Therefore, it's important to keep your home reasonably clean on a regular basis. More importantly, make sure that alcohol and guns are kept in locked cabinets that cannot be accessed by your child.
Get to Know Other Adults in Your Child's Life
It is a good idea to get to know other adults in your child's life, such as teachers, daycare workers, coaches, scout leaders and Sunday school leaders. While they can only testify about what they have personally observed, they can support your claims that you are involved with your child's life. You might consider volunteering at your child's school or daycare, or act as team parent for a sport they're in. This will give everyone a chance to see you interact with your child on a regular basis.
Now that you have some ideas about how to build a strong custody case, use the information in this article to help you take the right actions. Work closely with a family lawyer who can help you navigate the process successfully. For more information, contact The Law Office Of James R. Kennedy Jr. or a similar firm.