If you are a parent going through a divorce, one of your biggest concerns is likely your children and how the outcome will affect them. While every parent worries over issues like child custody, far too often, it is fathers who get the short end of the stick when it comes to parenting time and visitation. Despite numerous studies showing the many benefits of equal parenting time after divorce, family courts are still far more likely to award sole custody to mothers over 80 percent of the time.
This, in spite of the fact that modern parental care has blurred traditional gender roles, and research from over 50 studies in countries around the world has demonstrated that children whose parents share custody more equally fare far better in their lives than those with a parent who has sole custody. The good news is that the issue of fathers' parental rights may finally be starting to change for the better.
The darker side of sole custody
Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule -- such as in cases of violence and domestic abuse -- but federal statistics certainly suggest that awarding sole custody is far more likely to hurt children. In fact, data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that children raised by single parents make up:
- 90 percent of homeless and runaway children
- 85 percent of those in prison
- 85 percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders
- 75 percent of children in chemical abuse centers
- 71 percent of high school dropouts
- 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions
- 63 percent of teen suicides
Something needs to be done, and experts think that the "something" is shared parenting. What, exactly, is shared parenting? It's essentially what it sounds like: mothers and fathers who, following their divorce, create a flexible arrangement to make sure their children spend an approximately equal amount of time with both parents.
The benefits of shared parenting
Evidence from 40 years of research from more than 35 experts around the world demonstrates unequivocally that shared parenting following a divorce is in the best interests of most children. Not only is it beneficial for the children's emotional well-being, it even seems to have a positive effect on their physical health by lowering stress levels.
Generally speaking, shared parenting is also less expensive and contentious. Instead of parents fighting a vicious court battle over who gets the kids, the situation begins by considering both mother and father on equal parenting terms. This, in turn, usually means not only lower stress levels all around but a shorter divorce process with fewer legal fees.
Worth fighting for
The rights of fathers to have equal access to their children and the benefits of shared parenting are worth continuing to work toward. Many states are introducing parental reforms, and some have already passed new laws. The general public, too, seems to be strongly in favor of shared parenting over sole custody in most cases.
While there are a vast number of reasons to keep pushing for parental custody reform, the most important reason is your children. A father wants what's best for his kids, and no father wants to give up any more time with his children than necessary.
You deserve a fair chance to protect your paternal rights. A New Hampshire family law attorney with experience in fathers' rights can help provide guidance and counsel on seeking fair arrangements for custody and parenting time.