Fathers seek increased parental rights in divorce

Florida fathers who are in the middle of a divorce may wish to learn more about what kind of rights they have regarding their children. While many states are working on giving fathers more access to their children than in decades past, fathers still sometimes have to fight a difficult battle for equality.

Those fathers are up against several factors that make it difficult for them to get equal treatment. Custody laws different from state to state, and some terms do not have consistent meanings from place to place. Legal decisions regarding custody may be different not just from state to state but even from judge to judge within the same county. Fathers who were not married to their partners must go to court initially in order to establish their rights.

However, there is a shift toward fathers' rights in many areas. Studies support the idea that children do better when they spend equal time with both parents, and some states are moving toward codifying shared custody. In recent decades, as the number of stay at home fathers has gone up, the number of cases in which mothers are awarded sole custody have gone down. Some experts attribute this change to judges and attorneys being children of divorce themselves. They theorize that those individuals may be drawing on their own negative childhood experiences and may be now taking into account the rights of fathers due to their recollections of their parents' divorces.

Fathers may wish to speak with an attorney about negotiating with the other parent regarding shared custody. This shared custody is nearly always in the child's best interests, and although it can sometimes be worked out through negotiation, fathers may find it worthwhile to pursue in court if necessary.

Source: USA Today, "More dads demand equal custody rights", Sharon Jayson, June 14, 2014

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