In recent years, men have been recognized for taking a more active role in their children's lives. However, a perceived disparity still exists when it comes to fathers across the United States and here in Massachusetts being treated equally in child custody disputes. Many state legislatures are now rethinking child custody laws and making the process fairer to fathers.
When couples divorced in the past, the norm was that mothers received primary custody of the children, and fathers were left to pay child support and only received visitation. Now, however, many fathers want to do away with the old stereotypes and take a larger role in their children's lives. They are no longer happy with visitation rights alone and want to receive either sole or true joint custody of their children.
In the past, the general perception was that mothers were more likely to stay home and nurture their kids while the fathers worked outside the home. However, more women are now in the workforce than at any other time in history, and fathers have started taking on more of the parenting responsibilities. More fathers handle the day-to-day tasks of disciplining the children, taking care of their health and well-being and making decisions for them when necessary.
This new face of fatherhood has spawned more fathers who are willing to fight for equal custody of their children. Child custody disputes are never easy, and courts here in Massachusetts and nationwide may have to reconsider what would be best for the children in view of evolving social norms. The sometimes automatic assumption that the children would be better off with their mother may not necessarily apply anymore.
Source: freep.com, "More dads demand equal custody rights, reject child-support arrangements of yesterday", Sharon Jayson, June 14, 2014