It is widely believed that family law courts in Florida and across the country have historically favored mothers in child custody cases. However, it appears that many states are moving towards the expansion of fathers’ rights.
While studies show that sole custody being granted to the mother continued through the 1980s, judges in more recent years have caught up to laws that recognize that the primary caretaker should not automatically be granted sole custody. According to one study that surveyed the outcomes in Wisconsin child custody cases, the number of mothers who were awarded sole custody decreased from 60.4 percent to 45.7 percent between 1996 and 2007. During the same time period, joint custody rose from 15.8 to 30.5 percent. Additionally, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports that more mothers are paying child support than in previous years.
A law professor tracked the priorities of divorce courts during three decades of time. She reports that courts look for a parent who is able to get along with the other. In some cases, mothers have been penalized when they block a relationship between the father and his children. Disparity now exists between wealthy men and poor men. Some wealthy men are able to fight against reforms that would have otherwise required them to pay more in child support. At the same time, welfare reform came with the goal of tracking down fathers who did not pay child support and throwing them in jail. Additionally, fathers who were never married to the mothers of their children have experienced difficulty in asserting their paternal rights.
As traditional roles continue to change, fathers can be expected to play a more active role in their children’s lives. A family law attorney can assist a client in making a case that granting him custody would be in the child’s best interest.
Source: Slate, “Dad’s Day in Court“, Hanna Rosin, May 13, 2014