Whenever we assert the rights of a given group, it is important to remember that we are speaking in a kind of shorthand. For instance, “fathers’ rights” is a shorter way of saying equal rights for fathers. Proud dads are not looking for special treatment, just fair and equal treatment in matters of child custody.
In recent years, the fathers’ rights movement has gained widespread attention. A recent news article that originally appeared in USA Today explained that men are less willing to settle for visitation with child support obligations than they may have in the past. Devoted dads are advocating for more consideration in family courts, and many judges are listening.
While family law firms focusing on fathers’ rights are an important resource, some attorneys are quick to clarify that the issues of child custody should not be reduced to a gender battle. Rather, they should be about assessing the parenting skills and investments of both moms and dads.
One attorney quoted in the article explained that “Whether I represent a man or a woman, I’m going to ask, ‘Have you been involved in schooling? Have you taken the child to doctor’s appointments? Do you volunteer in school?’” These questions are important because they get to the heart of parenting and have little to do with men’s or women’s “roles.”
The progress of the fathers’ rights movement can look very different depending on which state you live in. Some states have laws and common practices that give significant consideration to involved dads. Others are still stuck in old notions that mothers are automatically better and more dedicated parents.
If you are a dad seeking equal custody (or more) of your children, make sure you understand your state’s laws and how courts tend to rule in such cases. It may be safest to assume that you will be fighting an uphill battle. As such, you need the help of a family law attorney who knows how to advocate on behalf of devoted dads.
Source: Detroit Free Press, “More dads demand equal custody rights, reject child-support arrangements of yesterday,” Sharon Jayson, June 14, 2014