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Momentum apparent in legal arena around father's rights

When parents separate, whether they are married or not, the issues of child custody, support and parenting time inevitably surface. For whatever reason, the convention that has traditionally been followed when deciding such matters has favored the mothers.

That's a situation that is changing. Gradually, in the face of mounting research showing just how important dads are to the overall well-being of children, state legislatures have begun to respond. Today, it's much more common for fathers to buck the conventions of the past and to fight for their rights to maintain long-term relationships with their kids.

Some states have started to adopt language for laws to reflect more gender-neutrality. Where "sole custody" may once have been in use, some states are changing to "joint custody." Others may be adopting the terms "legal decision-making" responsibility or "parenting time."

So why are these changes happening now? Analysts offer differing points of view. Some suggest that it's because there are more working mothers than there were just 40 years ago. Also, if there's a stay-at-home parent in the picture these days, chances may be good that it's the father, not the mother. 

Another view is that more judges and lawyers today can claim to be children of divorce and to have experienced gender imbalance first hand. As a result, they look to create a better situation going forward.  

Not only do laws vary state to state, but in some states the rules may differ county to county. This is the situation in Ohio. This can present unique challenges when trying to develop the right legal strategy to exercises a father's rights and achieve goals framed by the best interests of parents and children. And it is another reason why an attorney should always be consulted to ensure that the desired relationships can flourish for everyone's benefit.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "More dads demand equal custody rights, reject child-support arrangements of yesterday," Sharon Jayson, USA Today, June 14, 2014

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