Men in the United States have historically faced more difficulty in the family court system than women when it comes to securing custody rights of their children. Unfortunately, long-standing tropes concerning the roles of men and women as parents continue to influence family court decisions throughout the Midwest and the rest of the US. It’s not uncommon for fathers in family court to feel inherently disadvantaged.
All fathers should know that the trend of bias against fathers in family court is waning, and courts across the country are now more willing to recognize fathers as just as capable parents as mothers. If you recently divorced and feel that your child custody agreement is unfair, imbalanced, or does not suit your children’s best interests, it is essential to know what you can do to rectify the situation and secure the custody rights you legally deserve.
Why Are Fathers Disadvantaged in Family Court?
If you analyze all the family court outcomes throughout the United States concerning child custody, you will likely notice that mothers become primary custodians of their children far more often than fathers. While these rates continue to balance, men are still statistically disadvantaged in family court simply due to biases concerning gender roles. Traditionally, men are breadwinners for their family while women care for the home and their children. This has birthed the long-standing belief that women are inherently more capable parents than men.
While men tend to work longer hours than women and also tend to participate in high-risk and high-stress work environments more often than women, men are just as capable of being protective, nurturing, and safe parents as women. If you are a father heading for a child custody determination, it is easy to feel as though the long-standing stereotypes about mothers and fathers are going to stack the court’s decision against you.
Making Your Case for Custody
Every family court in the US has a legal responsibility to ensure that any verdict handed down by a family court judge suits the best interests of the children the verdict will affect. A family court judge reviewing a child custody case has the legal obligation to thoroughly review all material evidence and examine each parent to determine their fitness and suitability for custody.
An experienced family law attorney is your best asset if you are concerned about making your case for custody. Your attorney can help you prove that your work schedule is flexible enough to provide you with plenty of time to care for your children and the income you need to handle their living expenses. If you believe your children’s mother is an unfit parent or presents any type of safety risk to your children, your attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to prove this, too.
Your family law attorney can provide valuable guidance for helping you make the strongest case possible in family court. However, while attitudes regarding parental roles continue to change throughout the country, you may feel as though it is impossible to overcome your judge’s biases. If you wind up with a custody agreement that you find unsuitable or unacceptable, do not lose hope as there is a legal avenue for altering your child custody agreement without a complex and expensive appeals process.
Modifying Your Custody Agreement
Ultimately, your child custody determination may result in a custody arrangement that you believe is unfair or one-sided in favor of your children’s mother. The family court has a legal obligation to rule in favor of your children’s best interests, and children thrive best when they have equal access to both of their parents. If you believe the judge who made the final decision in your child custody determination failed to account for all relevant information and delivered a ruling that does not truly suit your children’s best interests, you have the right to petition the court for post-judgment modification.
Many divorced parents throughout the US rely on this modification system to alter their custody rights and adjust their child support terms. This legal vehicle can also provide you the opportunity to present the court with evidence that should have been considered in your original custody determination if it was unknown at the time. An experienced family law attorney can assist you with this process, so it is best to consult with legal counsel if you intend to file a petition to modify your custody order.
Post-judgment modification begins with a petition submitted to the family court. The court will review the petition and then transmit the appropriate documents to the petitioner’s respondent. In this situation, the petitioner would be the father and the respondent would be the mother. The court sets a hearing date, and at this hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to speak on the issue at hand. Many modification hearings result in rulings almost immediately, but further deliberation and review may be necessary in some cases.
If the judge handling the modification hearing believes the petitioner’s case holds merit, they will review the child custody order to determine whether the proposed change in custody rights would suit the best interests of the children in question.
Find Your Legal Team Today
Fathers should not feel trapped and hopeless in the family court system. Most family courts throughout the US are doing away with biased rulings and recognizing the fact that fathers are just as capable parents as mothers. If you believe your current child custody agreement is unfair or does not suit your children’s best interests, you need to act as soon as possible. Consult with an experienced family law attorney and discuss your concerns. If your attorney believes your concerns hold legal merit, they will assist you in starting the modification process.
One of the most important things for any father to remember in this situation is to never give up. If you start feeling hopeless about your situation or believe that the family court will never change their minds, an experienced attorney can clarify your options and help you understand the situation in greater detail. They can also provide the legal counsel you need to make a compelling case for modification of your child custody agreement. Contact an experienced family law attorney today for specific advice about your unique situation and to learn what you can expect from the modification process.