The world is changing. Today, more father’s than ever are stepping up and looking for full custody of their children in divorce. Whereas men used to simply accept the fact that they were going to lose custody to their wife and/or the children’s mother, it is no longer the case. Father’s not only want to keep an active role in their children’s lives, they want full custody and are willing to fight for it.
This recent drive by men seeking custody has actually created a huge wave in the legal world. We are seeing more legal websites offering advice to father’s seeking custody as well as law firms starting to specialize in this niche of the law. Times are changing, and the change is happening quickly.
Everyone is aware of the fight that women had for equal rights in life and in the workplace. It is a battle that was hard fought and a victory that was well deserved. But, if women have equal rights in all aspects of life and work, why are men still so far behind the times when it comes to child custody? The real question here is why one does not beget the other?
With women taking a more active role in the workforce as well as earning as much as men, many of the old arguments for awarding women custody can be dismissed. In fact, it is becoming more and more common for the roles of the household to be reversed. We are seeing more and more fathers stay home to take care of their children while the mother is now the main breadwinner of the family.
While some states have made immense strides in addressing what were once considered traditional laws, other states are still lagging behind. It is not so much that fathers do not have rights in these states as it is that they just need to step and make their presence known, so to speak. However, even with these more progressive states, we have a long way to go before a father’s rights in divorce are considered as automatic as they are for mothers.
Why Is the Outlook for a Father’s Rights in Divorce Changing?
As briefly touched on above, fathers are taking a more active role in their children’s lives. The days of dad coming home, patting the kids on the head, and saying good night are over. Today, you are just as likely to see soccer dads as you are soccer moms. The effort of the modern day father is being recognized and there is a concentrated effort to reward them in the eyes of the law.
You also have a generation of fathers that have gone through the “divorce experience” as a child with little to no involvement with their fathers. These fathers are realizing that in today’s world, their kids need a father’s influence in split homes and they are much more willing to offer that than previous generations.
With this new move to exercise a father’s rights in divorce, however, comes the danger of going too far. While we want to make sure a father is able to see his children and be active their lives, we need to make sure things are not taken too far. Meaning, that the movement for a father’s rights does not start a type of gender war that begins to take away mother’s rights. What we need is a middle ground where both parents are able to equally and actively participate in their children’s lives, even after divorce.
Understand You Have Equal Rights
The real problem here is that most fathers simply do not realize they have the same rights as the mother when they are involved in a divorce. They simply accept that things are the way they are and this is just how it is. Well, this is obviously not true! Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the father has every right to remain active in his children’s lives during and after divorce.
Something we see reported in many cases is a father saying that his wife or ex-wife simply refuses to allow him to be active. He is not allowed to attend parent/teacher meetings at the school because she does not want him there. He is not allowed to attend after school activities or sports games because she does not want him there. He is not allowed to pick up the kids from school because she does not want him to.
Are you seeing the trend here? It comes down to want she wants, not what the father is legally entitled to. Now, of course, the reason the mother often deprives the father from seeing his children is due the circumstances of the divorce, not so much about the father being a bad father. This type of attitude towards the father is often more about revenge than seemingly doing what is right for the children.
Protecting Your Rights
So, you have now made a conscious decision to be an active father and seek at the very least, equal custody of your children. Prior to the final decision, you want to remain active in their lives and prove further that you are indeed the better parent and deserve custody. What can you do?
- Don’t always believe what you read – there is a lot of information available, or should we say misinformation, that will tell you that you have no chance of winning a custody battle. Much of this information may be outdated, reflecting a time when fathers did not really actively seek custody. Don’t let this information dissuade you from fighting what you want to fight for, your children.
- Hire an attorney – simply put, you will not be able to win a custody battle without a good attorney. More importantly, you need an attorney that has worked with fathers and has had previous success in winning custody battles for fathers. Make sure you do your due diligence until you find an attorney with which you can be both comfortable and confident.
- Get your time – never agree to have time taken away from you when you are involved in a custody battle. If she tries to tell you they can’t come with you because they have an activity, offer to take them to their activity. If you give up time now, you may never get it back.
- Stand your ground – if your wife tries to dictate terms and change how or when the children see you, stand your ground and stand up for what is right. Simply put, don’t let her push you around. You have an agreement in place, so make sure she sticks to it.
- Financial concerns – money is important, but it is not everything. Many fathers will back away from the fight simply because they believe they cannot afford the children. Realize that if you win full custody, your spouse will likely be required to pay you child support. In addition, the children need their father, so do not remove yourself from their lives.
Will you win your custody battle? Nobody can tell you if that will or will not happen right now. But, if you don’t fight for them, you obviously cannot win the battle. If you truly want your children with you and you want to remain active in their lives, fight for your rights and fight for your children!