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Fathers today are winning more child custody disputes

Custodial issues are a primary cause for bitterness in divorce in Pulaski, Arkansas, and elsewhere. It is often assumed that courts have gender bias in custody issues; there is a wide range of protests among biological fathers. However, the legal system has been recognizing fathers’ rights in divorce cases more often lately.

As a result of the growing women’s rights movement during the 1970s, gender roles witnessed a paradigm shift in the family law arena. Traditionally, it was the man who was the principal breadwinner of the family and the mother assumed the role of the children’s primary caregiver. However, in more recent years, there has been a gender role reversal. Many women are now financially independent.

Men have also become more hands-on in their approach to fatherhood. Many men even take paternity leave to take care of their minor children. The archetypical father handing out cigars outside of the hospital room while the mother is giving birth has given way to a more involved father who coaches the mother throughout the process. Even with the shift in parental roles, there is still a perception that the courts favor women when it comes to custody-related issues. However, to its credit, the legal system has modified the rules and there seems to be a shift from the 1980s onward toward recognizing the father’s custodial rights. Many estranged couples do prefer joint custody. Sole custody rates of mothers have decreased from 60.4 percent to 45.7 percent.

Nowadays, courts in Arkansas and other parts of the U.S. take the best interests of the child into consideration first when determining custody. There have been many cases where it was the woman who was required to pay child support. It may be safe to conclude that it is income as well as gender that factor into custody. Although the court system recognizes the parental and custodial rights of the fathers post-divorce, custodial battles of unmarried couples are often more complicated. Professional legal advice in such cases may be valuable for fathers who find themselves in a position where they have to fight for their custodial rights.

Source: The Cap Times, “Hanna Rosin: Dad’s day in court”, Hanna Rosin, May 29, 2014

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