Dear Dr. Romance:

I hope you don't mind me writing you but I came across an article that you said:  "The best interest of the child also could preclude a mom from gaining custody," says Dr. Tessina. "If a judge doesn't deem that the mother meets the state's standards for being a fit parent, she won't be awarded primary custody. If both parents are fit to raise the child, they're typically granted shared custody."

I'm a single father of a 6 year old daughter and thought that what you said is absolutely true. I was wondering if it wouldn't be too much to ask if you had anything that could actually back this up? Unfortunately, I do not have 50/50 custody of my daughter because the mother is not agreeable. I won't get into the details but I would love more information on your statement to help me with my case of 50/50 is in the interests of the child. I've been making that argument ever since my daughter was born (her mother and I were never married).

At any rate regardless thanks so much for speaking out in the article. It gives hope to all us non-custodial parents that are getting screwed by unreasonable parents and system.

Dear Reader:

I'm so sorry to hear that you don't have shared custody. I know how painful that is for a father. Custody laws vary from state to state, and the skill of your lawyers, and the judicial power of the judge who makes the decision are also factors. Also, in some states, whether or not you're married to her mother can be a factor. To have something to back up your case, you need to speak to a lawyer who is familiar with the laws regarding custody in the state in which the case is decided. Right or wrong, the court seems to have decided that you don't have enough status as a father to be granted 50/50 custody. If you can prove your status, through proof that you were involved in your daughter's life, you are listed as the father on the birth certificate, you paid child support, or you supported your child in some other way, then the courts will re-consider.

Custody decisions can always be challenged, unless you've relinquished your rights. If there's no legal way to change this, then keep in mind that children always search for missing parents when they become old enough to not be controlled by the custodial parent. Keep reminding your daughter that you care about her, through cards, gifts and letters, and be sure to pay any outstanding child support that may be due. Keep a journal about your thoughts about your daughter, for her to read one day.  There will be a day in the future when your daughter will want to know why you weren't there. Dr. Romance: Got a tough spouse?  will help you find a way to deal more effectively with your ex. Remember, if you're going to fight it in court, you need to be sure your record is good and support is paid up to look good in the eyes of the judge.

Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things that Can Ruin Your Relationship  will show you where your relationship went off the rails, and give you some ideas for getting along better.

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Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.