Courts May Be Rethinking Rights of Fathers in Custody Cases

Although child custody cases are supposed to decide what is in the children's best interests, mothers are often given preferential treatment over fathers. Yet more men are choosing to stay home with kids and more women are going to work. Florida fathers may be interested to learn that due to changing dynamics in the workplace and the home, more dads are demanding equal consideration for custody rights in family law courts.

More state legislatures are reconsidering the tradition of giving mothers custody over fathers, leading more law firms to cater to the needs of men seeking fathers' rights. A law professor suggests that the reason for the change is that judges and attorneys grew up during a time when it was assumed that moms would get full custody and remain home with the kids. Having lived through that experience, today's legal professionals may want children of divorce to experience something different.

The data supports the hypothesis that fewer judges are awarding full-custody to mothers. A study of Wisconsin divorce cases showed that from 1986 to 2008 the percentage of mothers who got sole custody went down from 80 percent to 42 percent. The percentage of parents awarded equal shared custody increased from 5 percent to 27 percent. These figures involved married parents. Fathers who never married their children's mothers may get custody but have to take an extra step to petition for father's rights.

Fathers seeking child custody, whether sole or shared, may still be fighting an uphill battle against traditional beliefs of what's best for children. A family law attorney could assist dads in proving their ability to care for their child and in showing that it would be beneficial not to award the mother full custody.

Source: USA Today , "Sharon Jayson", June 14, 2014

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