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Advocates stand up for fathers' rights in child custody

Divorcing parents have the added pressure of not only dismantling their marriage, but also keeping their children's best interests in mind throughout the entire process. Most parents in Pennsylvania play active roles in the lives of their children, and they typically expect this to be reflected in their child custody agreement. However, fathers in particular are often surprised that this is not the case. Fathers are increasingly advocating for their right to continue parenting after a divorce.

Historically, child custody arrangements reflected societal norms. Namely, it was expected that a father worked and most mothers stayed home, giving the latter a greater opportunity to form a deeper bond with children. Custody arrangements that favored mothers might have made sense during the period of time in which this distribution of responsibilities was widely accepted, but that is no longer the case.

Advocates believe that family law must change in order to reflect the evolving American family. It is much more likely that both parents in a household will hold some type of gainful employment, and fathers have taken on much more involved child care roles than fathers of previous generations. Because of this, many divorcing fathers are gutted when they realized that family law courts tend to prioritize mothers' involvement.

Pennsylvania parents usually have the opportunity to create a child custody agreement through mutual negotiations. Doing so gives parents the opportunity to create an arrangement that reflects the child's best interests while also respecting the roles that both parents play. However, this is not the case when parents who are unable to agree must go before a family law judge, who will have the final say in the matter.

Source: stltoday.com, "Aisha Sultan: Making child custody more fair to divorced fathers", Aisha Sultan, June 11, 2016

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