New York, NY- There is the impression that when it comes to child custody, the woman will be more likely to get custody and the father’s presence in their child’s life will be reduced to weekly visits, sometimes biweekly visits. Both men and women have this impression and about three decades ago they would have been right. But in 2014, the assumption that custody will automatically be awarded to the mother is not necessarily correct, and men have more custody rights than they think.
Two recent high-profile cases, one involving actor Jason Patric and another involving skier Bode Miller, show how family courts increasingly recognize the parental rights of fathers.
Just this week, a California appellate court gave Patric the right to see his four-year old son in spite of his ex-girlfriend’s assertion that he was merely a sperm donor. Patric’s girlfriend conceived through in-vitro fertilization and denied him access to the child. A judge had initially denied Patric had any paternal rights, but he was eventually triumphant and now has the legal right to spend time with his son.
In Olympic skier Bode Miller’s case, he recently won joint custody of his 14-month old son after a drawn out battle with his ex-girlfriend, according to the New York Daily News. The April family court decision is temporary and will be re-evaluated in September, but he was able to maintain his parental rights.
Bode and Patric are among the growing crusade of men fighting to have the same rights as women when it comes to child custody rights. Even though there is no longer the legal assumption that a woman should get sole custody, many men believe the courts still favor mothers over fathers when it comes to custody and visitation rights. That may have been true up until 80s, but it’s no longer the case.
A recent study by the Matrimonial Attorneys of America found that 47 percent of its 1,600 members saw an increase in the number of women who pay alimony or child support to their ex-husbands.
Also playing in men’s favor is the fact that many women work full-time so joint child custody arrangements are preferable. It’s simply a matter of having a divorce attorney convince the court the father is a capable parent. If a father has a flexible schedule it can work in their favor. Courts want both parents to have a presence in a child’s life.
If you’re a man and want primary custody of your child or children, don’t be afraid to ask your divorce attorney to fight for your custody wishes. Don’t automatically assume that a court will award primary custody or sole custody to the mother.
When some couples divorce, they may decide that the mother should have primary custody and the father gets visitations rights. If this an arrangement both parents agree on they must work together to determine which days and weeks the father gets to spend with their children.