Changing laws to give fathers more rights to their children after divorce.


About 20 states are considering measures that would change the laws governing which parent gets legal and physical control of a child after a divorce or separation. 

Some of the biggest battles over child custody are playing out not in courtrooms, but in statehouses.

Prompted partly by fathers concerned that men for too long have gotten short shrift in custody decisions, about 20 states are considering measures that would change the laws governing which parent gets legal and physical control of a child after a divorce or separation.

The proposals generally encourage judges to adopt custody schedules that maximize time for each parent. Some of the measures, such as those proposed in New York and Washington state, take an additional step by requiring judges to award equal time to each parent unless there is proof that such an arrangement wouldn’t be in a child’s best interests.

Critics of the bills contend that they threaten to take discretion away from judges and risk giving leverage to abusive men. They also say the laws are poorly targeted because typically the only custody cases that end up in court are ones in which former spouses are too hostile toward each other to effectively practice shared parenting anyway.

Supporters maintain that the opponents, which include many family lawyers and bar associations, are trying to keep alive an adversarial culture that leads to lengthy—and often lucrative—court battles. WE LOVE DADDYThey say the law should better reflect recent studies that show children are better off when both parents play a meaningful role in their lives.

“If dad is subject to the typical ‘Wednesday dinner and every other weekend’ arrangement, he’s not doing the kind of parenting that benefits kids, making sure the homework is done, getting them up for school,” said Linda Nielsen, a psychology professor at Wake Forest University. In such situations, a father “is basically reduced to an uncle.”

Fatherless Epidemic Graph - 2015“Some 20 states are considering changing laws to give fathers more rights to their children after divorce” ~ WSJ‘s Ashby Jones reports.

Legal views on custody have swung considerably over the years. The “tender years” doctrine came into vogue early in the last century, said Donald Hubin, an emeritus professor of philosophy at Ohio State University who has written on parenting and parental rights. That doctrine stated a child should stay especially close to his or her mother during infancy and toddler years.

About 50 years ago, that notion gave way to the idea that custody should be decided according to a child’s best interest.

Advocates of shared parenting say the “best interests of the child” standard gives judges too much latitude to employ latent biases and unfairly encourages parents to diminish each other’s abilities in a public forum.

Statistics on shared parenting are fragmented. But several studies in recent years show that while shared parenting is becoming more popular, it is far from the norm. A 2014 study showed that the percentage of cases in Wisconsin that ended in “equal shared custody” grew from 5% in 1986 to 27% in 2008.

“The court system too often creates winners and losers out of well-intentioned parents,” said Carl Roberts, an Arvada, Colo., software salesman in the midst of a six-year custody battle involving his sons, aged 11 and 12. “The winner gets the child, and the loser often hardly gets to be a parent.”

After an initial ruling in 2009, Mr. Roberts was allowed custody of his sons every other weekend. In 2012, that time was expanded by two days a month. Earlier this month, he and his ex-wife agreed to a plan that could further increase his parenting time.

“It’s absurd that the law says nothing about the benefits of two-parent child relationships, and does nothing to encourage them,” he said.

The Colorado senate introduced a shared parenting bill in January. The measure, which Republican co-sponsor Sen. Kevin Lundbergsaid was prompted partly by Mr. Roberts’s pleas, requires courts to explain in writing why a custody order that “does not order substantially equal parenting time between the parties” is in the best interest of the child. The Senate unanimously passed the legislation last month and it is pending in the state House.I am dad - 2015Joni Roberts, Mr. Roberts’s ex-wife, said the measure largely was unnecessary given that the vast majority of couples settle their custody disputes out of court. “Our situation has gone on for six years, and we reached agreements every time,” she said.

Other opponents of shared-parenting legislation reject claims that it is simply designed to protect a system that pays lawyers’ bills. They say that while role-sharing is a laudable goal for parents who can make it work, a presumption of a 50-50 split shouldn’t be baked into law.

Peter Salem, executive director of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization that studies the best ways to resolve family conflict, said such situations are highly nuanced. “It doesn’t make sense to force this on couples that really deeply don’t get along,” he said.

Some domestic violence experts fear a presumption of shared parenting will give men with histories of emotional or physical abuse more bargaining power during divorce negotiations. “You’re going to see victims pressured to cooperate with their abusers, which is completely harmful to children,” said Barry Goldstein, a domestic-violence expert who practiced family law in New York for 30 years.

Source: Fathers Seek Parity in Custody Cases – WSJ

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Goals of the Fathers' Rights Movement The fathers' rights movement arose in response to the perception that fathers were not being given equal treatment in child custody litigation. Fathers' advocacy groups typically to focus upon some or all of the following beliefs: A "traditional" division of parental roles during a marriage should not of itself mean that the father should not be considered as a custodian following divorce; Children are best served by being in the care of both parents, and thus there should be a legal presumption of joint physical custody and equal parenting time following divorce; Fathers are at a disadvantage throughout the entire custody litigation process. Fathers' rights groups assert that changes of this nature will create a family court environment where both parents are treated fairly and equally, and diminish the effects of legislation and, in some cases, of judicial bias which favors the mother. Fathers' rights groups also typically point to studies which show that the absence of a father from a child's life can lead to a wide variety of negative behavioral and educational consequences. Because We’re Not Asking You To Make A Career Out Of This Cause. We’re just asking you to show your kids and everyone else what it means to have the integrity to stand up for others and do what’s right; regardless of your personal circumstances. We’re asking you to make a powerful point by speaking with what you do; not with what you say you’ll do. Are you with us? The BEST Parent is BOTH Parents JOIN US~~> JOIN US~~>

7 thoughts on “Changing laws to give fathers more rights to their children after divorce.”

  1. Every child deserves an involved dad.

    Many people are surprised at the research which shows a connection between father absence and an increase in social problems in America including: poverty, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, physical abuse, suicide, substance and alcohol abuse and a host of other troubling social problems. The sad fact is that not only does father absence hurt children, fathers suffer as well.

    Developing positive relationships with their children encourages and motivates fathers to lead more constructive lives, even in the most difficult of circumstances. For instance, the simple act of regularly writing to their children from prison improves outcomes for incarcerated fathers, including increasing their odds of training for, finding, and keeping a job once they reenter society. Evidence shows that fathers who write to their children once a week have a lower risk of violence in prison and recidivism when released. These positive outcomes are multiplied when we study the impact on the children of inmates, and how father contact can change the trend of their children’s lives – even while the father is still incarcerated.

    In addition, research and experience tell us that there is a strong correlation between lack of father involvement and many larger social challenges. Sadly, trends are against us. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, in a study that investigated these trends, 2006 – 2010, “fewer fathers now live with their children” over the period studied. Reasons for this depressing trend include incarceration, non-marital childbearing and other factors.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America, one out of three children in America, now live in biological father-absent homes. Furthermore, according to the national surveys conducted by NFI, 9 in 10 parents believe there is a father absence crisis in America.

    This study, an excellent resource on the impact of father-child involvement, also describes how “increased involvement of fathers in their children’s lives has been associated with a range of positive outcomes for the children.”

    Fatherhood is in crisis in America, and you can help. By using our evidence-based programs your department, agency, or not-for-profit group can increase father involvement, improve the lives of children everywhere, and reverse negative trends in a wide range of social issues. Or, by becoming an individual activist, you can bring fatherhood programming to your community and help to reduce a host of social ills in your neighborhood.

    NFI is a nationally respected, oft-cited, non-profit organization committed to better outcomes for children and our society as a whole. Our research and programs make a positive difference in the relationships between fathers and children – even in cases where a father is not physically present in the home. You don’t have to be a bystander to the fatherhood crisis in America; you can help to turn the tide and help us create a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad.

    Thank you for your interest and support,

    The National Fatherhood Initiative® Team –

    Liked by 3 people

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