Lawmakers in Missouri, Maine, Arizona, Colorado and Delaware have taken significant steps to make more gender-neutral policies regarding custody rights. Now, advocates are asking for other states to follow suit in acknowledging fathers’ rights.
Many fathers are unwilling to simply accept the old visitation and child support arrangements that were popular decades ago and are trying to stay present in their children’s lives. They are asking family courts across the country to get rid of old stereotypes and recognize how important they are to their children’s physical and emotional well-being. However, family courts across the country have different legal arrangements and the decisions can vary even within a state. As roles in the workplace have changed and more families consist of two working parents, fathers are pushing for a different perspective in family law cases as well.
Recent data supports these conclusions. A Pew Research Center found that 1.1 million fathers self-reported as being a stay-at-home parent in 1989, compared to almost double that in 2012. Additionally, most of these fathers reported their status was so they could care for their children, not because they were out of work. According to court records in Wisconsin, mothers receiving primary custody have decreased from 80 percent to 42 percent between 1986 and 2008. For the same time period, joint custody arrangements have increased from 5 to 27 percent. Additionally, fathers who were never married to the mothers of their children have additional hurdles and are asking for their own recognition of rights. Unwed fathers must take an affirmative stance and ask for paternity to be established.
Fathers who would like to assert their paternal rights may choose to consult with a family law attorney. In so doing, they can learn about what rights and options are available to them.
Source: Detroit Free Press, “More dads demand equal custody rights, reject child-support arrangements of yesterday“, Sharon Jayson , June 14, 2014