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Melissa A. Featherston

More dads pushing for increased fathers' rights

In a nationwide trend, more dads are demanding custody rights as part of a fathers' rights movement. Even in Missouri, more dads are challenging traditional custody roles during a divorce. The fathers' rights movement argues that fathers should have the same parenting rights and visitation as mothers do after a divorce. With many fathers earning less than mothers or working as stay-at-home dads, this argument has seen success in many family law courts.

This movement stems from the desire of many fathers to remain a relevant part of their kids' lives. In the past, mothers were generally granted primary custody and parental authority. Dads were often granted weekend visitation and some holiday visitation. This was long accepted as "the norm," but more states are moving toward a wider recognition of equal parenting rights.

As gender roles change and equalize across the country, it is only natural that the same happens in family courts. Fathers are also pushing for a more equitable system for determining spousal support and alimony. Missouri is one of the many states that has begun to consider gender equality when making family law decisions. However, the definition of "gender equality" can differ on a state-by-state basis. It could even differ from one case to another, making it important for a father to clearly outline his goals and understand his options when facing divorce.

Fathers' rights is an important issue. If a father plans on fighting for shared or primary custody of his children, beginning with a complete evaluation of the situation can be a beneficial place to start. The litigation process during a divorce can be daunting for some, but preparation can make it easier on all parties involved.

Source: USA Today, "More dads demand equal custody rights", Sharon Jayson, June 14, 2014

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