It is a common misconception that men are treated with great disparity when they step foot into family court. Once a upon a time, fathers were expected to accept child custody arrangements of every other weekend with one night a week, while providing financial support. In recent years, fathers have taken a more active role in parenting and have begun to fight back.
The Shifting Roles within the Household
This misconception is predicated on the old-fashioned definition of what was once a traditional household. It was once accepted that the man or the father was the breadwinner of the family while the woman or the mother stayed home to care for the children and house. This was the view that was also often adopted by the Courts.
However, in the 1970s, the Courts began to shift their views from the man being the sole breadwinner and instead looked at the man and woman (mother and father) as sharing the domestic duties and sharing or contributing to the household assets. That shift in view gave way to fathers gaining more equal footing in family court.
Today, the term “stay-at-home-dad” is frequently used. More men are staying home and assuming the role of primary caregiver, while some women have become the breadwinners of the family.
The Best Interest of the Child
A common phrase in any child custody case is “the best interest of the child.” The Court will award custody based on what is best for the child and will take into account a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the child’s wishes, the child’s involvement in school and community, the child’s relationship with each parent, and each parent’s ability and willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent. By considering what is in the best interest of the child, the Courts consider the fathers when deciding custody and do not automatically award custody to the mothers.
One of the biggest changes in custody determinations is that the Court may now favor the “friendly parent.” In these circumstances, the Court will not automatically award custody to the mother. Instead, the Court will examine the parent who is going to foster the relationship between the child and the other parent. The parent who shows to the Court that he or she is working to maintain a good relationship between the child and the other parent will have an advantage in some cases.
The “friendly parent” standard is in the best interest of any child. It encourages both parents to act responsibly and to put the child first. It also equalizes the custody playing field for both parents.
Seeking Help from an Attorney
When children are involved, you want to do what is best for them. Child custody matters can be difficult and complicated. You do not have to go it alone. Contact the attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. to help guide you through the process. We serve clients in the Wheaton area.