Generally speaking, gaining sole custody as a father is fairly rare. Of course, most courts in the U.S. prefer to push for arrangements of joint custody whenever possible. The main goal of the court is always to place a child in a custody arrangement that is in his or her best interest. The benefits of having both parents is always a strong case to be fought for, but there may be situations where this is not possible, or it is not in the best interest of the child.  In some cases, the courts will rule in favor of sole custody for one parent if it can be shown that this is most beneficial for the child. Many fathers may feel as though they have no chance in gaining full custody of their child against their child’s mother, or may feel a bit lost and forgotten in this process. A divorce lawyer in Indiana will be able to help you to understand and gain your custody rights as a parent if you are seeking full custody of your child. 

Can I Gain Full Custody As A Single Father?

First of all, it is not permitted for the court to show any bias toward mothers or against fathers. 

Although shared custody is preferable, there are still many situations where the court would consider granting full or sole custody to a father. However, this can be a long and arduous process, as you have to prove that you are a better fit parent. You may need to prepare for a long and challenging custody battle if the mother of your child is also planning to file for joint custody.


Again, the court will always seek the best interests of the child. If a father’s sole custody is truly what is most beneficial to the child’s health, safety and well-being, the court should rule in their favor. However, it is important to remember that the process down this road can be a difficult one and it can take an emotional toll on you and your family. You will need to prove that the mother of your child is an unfit parent, which can be quite challenging in itself. We would advise you to seek out the counsel of a divorce attorney if you are considering entering into a difficult custody battle, or if you have questions about the process. Here are a few things to know:

What the Court Considers When Granting Sole Custody:


If you are a father interested in gaining sole custody of your child, you must have acknowledged paternity of the child. You can acknowledge your paternity by giving your signature on the child’s birth certificate, or by a paternity proceeding during court. 

The Mother’s Relationship With The Child

It is important for the court to recognize if the mother has a positive impact in your child’s life. Most likely, if you are seeking sole custody you hold a belief that the mother of your child is unfit to parent in some way. Of course, if she suffers from addiction, mental illness or is even abusive you want to protect your child from these behaviors. The court will consider a custody change if you can prove the child is in danger, but a judge will be reluctant to change custody to a mother who is a primary caregiver where sole custody seems to be working. If you believe your child is in danger, you must be prepared to provide evidence to the court of the circumstances surrounding the necessity of custody removal. Remember that the court does have the best interest of your child in mind, and it is important that you reflect this principle to the judge as well. If there is any possibility that the mother can have a positive involvement in the child’s life, you should show openness to supervised visitations with her, or other alternatives.

The Father’s Relationship With the Child  

If you are seeking sole custody, the judge will want to see evidence of the positive relationship you share with your child as well. You should be prepared to answer questions about your past regular visitations with the child, as well as other questions regarding your ability to be the primary caregiver to the child during a child custody hearing. The judge will mainly base their decision on your current relationship with your child. Prepare to share responsibilities you take care of, such as attending school or sports practices and events, or even taking your child to important appointments. You will also want to share activities that you participate in regularly with your child that can demonstrate a strong bond you both share. A family or divorce attorney can help you along in this process of preparation if you are seeking full custody. 

What is the Best Arrangement for the Child

As a father, again be aware that the courts do strive to reach a custody agreement that is in your child’s best interest. A relationship with both parents is considered to be the most beneficial arrangement, so be prepared that the court may want to offer the child’s mother generous visitation rights. For more information in gaining sole custody, we recommend reviewing the state child custody laws in order to gain the arrangement best for your family. 

We understand that navigating through custody agreements is not an easy endeavor. Depending on your personal situation and relationship with the child’s mother, the process can become very complicated and sometimes even painful for all parties involved. As family and divorce attorneys, our job is to help you ensure that this process goes as smoothly as possible and that you can achieve a custody agreement that will benefit your child, and also be fair to you as a father. We can provide resources and guidance at the Law Office of Julie R. Glade, RN, JD. For more information and to set up a consultation please visit