This is a rough and quick post on a template for child custody, since many fathers are asking for templates on the same. I am giving some general looking points, and one has to replace them with those applicable to own situation. A child custody petition is filed under Guardians and Wards Act, and in courts these cases carry the acronym GWC. So if you tell your advocate that you want to file GWC petition, he/she would understand that you mean child custody.
The sole or paramount consideration in child custody decisions is welfare of child, so first drive out all those thoughts in your mind that “mother is always best for child”. That can make for some good Hindi movie dialogues, but in courts that thought process won’t be of much benefit to a father.
If you want to prove that wife/mother is quite incapable or is neglecting the child, which is rarer, then you may decide to ask for full custody of child. Here you will have to make some statements showing wife’s neglect etc, and how you can take better care of child. Since most men have full time work/professional responsibilities, you should mention some points about how the child will be cared for when you are at work.
Since proving neglect by mother is usually difficult, you may want to instead take the approach where you can ask for shared custody/guardianship where you can ask for 50:50 time (see shared parenting related posts), which is quite feasible if everyone lives in same city. Or if child lives in another city with mother as of now, then you can instead ask for custody of child during summer vacation, other school holidays, free access whenever you visit child’s city, access over phone/internet and such practical and feasible means of keeping in touch.
In another post, I have explained in very simple terms how to draft Written Statement(WS)/Objection to wife’s petition under DV, CrPC 125 etc. The same approach will be used here, in the sense that don’t worry about the initial header (in the court of, between so and so parties etc) and final footer (signed by deponent, dated on etc) of the petition; that is something which is daily bread and butter work for an advocate. So a ready draft (in very basic language) will look like one below:
In the XYZ court between
Father’s full name name (You) Petitioner
Wife’s name Respondent
1. We got married on XYZ date in ABC place etc. Mention details like marriage certificate if marriage is registered, else some proof like wedding card, wedding photos etc. Copies of these will be attached with petition.
2. A child was born out of wedlock on so and so date. Child’s birth certificate is in exhibit N.
3. Currently the child resides with respondent at so and so place.
4. I submit that I work as xyz at so and so place/company/own business etc.
5. Child is being deprived of father’s love, presence, and company due to respondent living separately and having taken the child with her.
6. I can take good care of child… now here give several points as per your sole custody or shared custody goal, like how you can take care of child, and child is attached to you, and how you can contribute to child’s growth and development. I would suggest desist from bragging about your financial earning or status, since that only reduces one from father to an ATM. This is a major trap which many men fall for, thinking that their earning and income will be a major factor for court to decide child custody in their favour. What will instead happen is that the court will say that mother is required for the small child (most of cases we see are in early stages of marriage), father is earning well, let him pay maintenance to wife for both wife and child, and award you twice visitation a month to show love and affection to child. So from hoping-for-full-custody-dad-thereby-teaching-wife-lesson-too, one becomes a visiting dad in child’s life in short order. And the much bragged about high earnings of father can only be useful now to buy expensive gifts for the kid, which have more of excitement than growth value for kid.
7. Depending on child’s age and requirements, you can suggest to take responsibility of child’s school fees, educational expenses, which is a very good strategy otherwise too, since that gives you some or full control over which school the child goes to. The reason for this is that sometimes mothers can change child’s school just to keep kid further away from father, or for various crazy reasons.
8. Offer to open a bank account in minor child’s name where you can be guardian, and you can suggest respondent can be made guardian too, and that account will be used only for purpose for spending on child. This will end the possibility of maintenance given to wife in name of child being used for other purposes. Later, you can ask for bank statement of this account and if there are lot of unexplained withdrawals from the account, which the respondent mother can’t explain how were being spent on child’s welfare, then you can use that point to gain better child custody or full custody in case of gross misuse of the funds too. The deposits into that account can be made in proportion of incomes of husband and wife.
Finally, child custody decisions are never permanent. So you can file for changes if the circumstances change.
More details will be added later….