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Unmarried fathers have it very tough.  Whether you have been your child’s primary caretaker, joint physical caretaker, allowed to just visit, or kept completely out of your child’s life, an unmarried father is at the beck and call and terror of their baby mother.  You see your child only as the mother deigns to allow you to do so.

In plain English, this means you have no rights! 

It is an extremely frustrating circumstance, and it is just not fair!  True enough.  She has all the power, all the advantages.  But you know what, you can still win custody!  We cannot win every case, but within the last two months we have won custody for unmarried dads in at least 5 cases, in 5 different counties.  But how?

Winning Custody Cases

Yes, an unmarried father seeking primary or joint physical custody of their child in a Georgia court is at a disadvantage.  So what!  Here is how we won these 5 cases:

Fulton County Superior Court 

In this case, the mom took the baby to Las Vegas and refused to return.  Dad had been the primary caretaker to the child when they lived together, but he was not legitimated and there was no court order.  She demanded money and rented an apartment.  Dad had no legal rights to do anything about it.  If he had arrived in Nevada, she would have taken out a domestic abuse restraining order against dad.  Never mind that police records indicated that she was the party who had been the physical aggressor.  This one was touch and go as we had to be very nuanced to get her back to Georgia.  Yes, we won primary physical custody for our unmarried father client in a Georgia courtroom.  See below.  

Jones County 

In this case, the dad lived in Texas, and had to appear in a Georgia court to get his custody rights to his son. In a daytime talk show twist, mom committed fraud and gave him a false DNA test that indicated he was not the father.  Our unmarried father client, however, knew something was wrong and that it was his son.  Two years later, with a private investigator, the forgery was discovered. Because of this deception, he had been out of his child’s life for these two years. We brought the new petition to legitimize him as the child’s legal father, and to not just get visitation rights, but to win primary physical custody of the child.  Yes, we won primary physical custody of this child for our unmarried father who had been out of his son’s life for two years.  See below.

Gwinnett County Superior Court

In this case, our unmarried father client was exercising primary physical custody of his daughter.  Mom was only seeing the child for three or four days a month. The dad and his family were the primary caretakers for the child. But somewhere along the line, dad made mom angry so she took the child away. This was technically legal since the dad was not legitimated. She took the child out of school and told the dad “tough.” Everything she did, even though not in the child’s best interest, in a Georgia courtroom, was legal.  We did win custody here as well. See below. 

Polk County Superior Court

Here, dad began working with another attorney who was not prepared and did not fare well at a temporary hearing.  Dad was destroyed at the original hearing.  He was left with only two supervised days a month under heavy scrutiny of the mom.  The unmarried father in this case was a good guy, but he had little understanding how to behave in this case, and getting him under control was a difficult but essential challenge.  In the end, yes, we won custody of his daughter.

Common Denominators

So, what did each of these cases have in common? 

  1. Starting from Zero: In each case, we started with practically nothing and a very involved and dominating mother. 
  2. Taking it Piece by Piece: We also had to show each client that this was not a quick fix and we needed to take each step carefully.  Baby steps that were completely necessary to set us up for bigger and better things in the future. 
  3. Focus on Communication: We spent time teaching dad how to communicate with mom.   Every negative and aggressive thing dad says can and will be used against him.  There is no satisfaction to be obtained by verbal spats.  They can only be used against you.  Instead, let mom rant and rave and hang herself.  Our unmarried fathers politely, and concisely, and articulately request legitimate things.  Mom looks bad, our client respectful, and desperate to see their child. 
  4. Be a Part of the Child’s Life: We also had to push hard to get dad back into the child’s life so mom couldn’t say he never cared for them.  Again, baby steps.  By the time we get to final trial our unmarried fathers have enough time with their child that mom cannot use the allegation that dad has no connection with the child as an excuse for dad not getting custody.  
  5. Best Interest of the Child: While mom is ranting about all the horrible things dad is, we build our case around the relevant statute, O.C.G.A. 19-9-3 that lists the 17 elements of what comprises the best interest of a child in the State of Georgia.
  6. Using Perspective: In each of these cases, the mom refused to co-parent and considered herself a victim of circumstances. We needed to shift perspective to show that the mothers were using the child as a weapon against the father.  This happens so often, and is so true, the mother uses an unmarried father’s child against them as a weapon!  It is ugly, and it has to stop. 

The facts in each case are different, but the fact patterns repeat time and time again. The weaponization of children is not only unfair to the father but also the child. The dad feels like a helpless victim since all he wants to do is be a good father. Mothers in these cases are often verbally abusive, passive-aggressive, hypocritical, and go out of their way to avoid co-parenting in any reasonable way. The mother will often blame the dad for all of their problems, both related and unrelated to the child. Mom may make derogatory statements toward and about the father. They may even tell grandparents that they can’t see the child if they let the dad visit as well. In many cases, the dad isn’t even trying to get custody, they just want to be there for their child.  It is a horrible position to be in, but one that unmarried father’s in the State of Georgia need to persevere through for the benefit of their children.

Is This Your Situation? 

If these facts sound familiar to you, it might be time to call a lawyer. We win child custody cases even with young children involved. These may be some of the hardest cases to win, but it’s rewarding to get justice for dads. Fathers can and do win custody of their children. It may take a fight, there are no guarantees, but working with lawyers who have experience and know the nuances of these cases can win for you.   

Call Shaw Law to learn more today.