We hear more about a father’s equal custody rights these days due to the many people advocating on behalf of fathers. A custodial parent is responsible for the primary care of the children and more fathers are assuming this role. With an increasing number of experts understanding the importance of fathers in the lives of their children, this situation is likely to become more common.
Unless one of the parents is deemed unfit, a father’s rights to custody are equal to those of a mother. Traditionally, courts formally awarded custody to the mother if the children were very young. Their presumption was that a mother was better equipped to care for a young child. Courts no longer operate under this “tender years” presumption and therefore, more fathers are winning custody.
A custodial parent may be the only adult tasked with making decisions regarding the education, health care, activities, and other aspects of the lives of children or this adult may share these responsibilities with the non-custodial parent. The parent who receives custody is also expected to encourage a healthy relationship with the non-custodial parent. This includes avoiding speaking ill of the other adult and encouraging the children to spend time with him or her.
Judges have permission to use their discretion when making or modifying custody decisions. However, there are many parties available to assist fathers in preparing strong cases for custody. A father’s rights lawyer is one of the most influential. This type of attorney helps fathers prepare custody petitions that reveal the positive influence that these male adults have on the lives of their children. A well-prepared case emphasizes the dad’s rights and illustrates how the male plans to care for the children until they reach adulthood.
While many parents head to court for custody decisions, some manage to work out agreements outside of this setting. They may settle on child custody through alternative dispute resolution processes that include collaboration, informal negotiation, and mediation. Attorneys often play roles in these processes and when they do, they help parents come to agreements quickly and without either one feeling slighted regarding custody.
As the family structure continues to evolve, we will hear more about a father’s equal custody rights. Attorneys who handle child custody issues will continue to play important roles in the futures of unmarried and divorcing parents and their children. They are just one of the many types of advocates for fathers.