More fathers across the nation are standing up to the legal system and demanding that they be given a fair chance to establish a relationship with their children. Although men have been fighting for child custody for generations, more fathers than ever before are prevailing. According to studies conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number of single fathers who have sole custody of their children has risen from one percent (1%) in 1960, to over eight percent (8%) in 2011. A recent article in Working Mother stated that now nearly fifty percent (50%) of fathers who seek sole custody in a divorce case are granted it. In Tennessee, men are joining the rest of the nation and demanding that their fathers’ rights be considered in child custody cases.
The change of parenting gender roles
One reason for the increase in single-father households may be the shift of parenting roles that has occurred throughout the past sixty (60) years. The traditional family image of a working father and stay-at-home mother is a thing of the past. Hard economic times have driven many women toward the workforce. Now, many women have moved up the corporate ladder and earn more money than their spouses. This has created a situation where more fathers are spending time at home with their children and acting as caretakers, while mothers are the proverbial breadwinners. Though judges will carefully consider the all aspects of a child’s wellbeing when determining custody in a divorce case, this new trend has led to more men being awarded the role of the child’s primary caretaker.
Keeping the child’s best interest in mind
Years ago, most states awarded custody of small children to their mothers based on the ‘tender years doctrine.’ This presumption indicated that children under the age of seven (7) years were better off in their mother’s care. According to a Working Mother special report, most states had banished this practice by 1994 and moved toward awarding custody based on the child’s best interest. In most cases, this involves a joint parenting situation. However, there are some situations where a judge may warrant that the child is better off with one parent over the other. Many judges use the following considerations when awarding child custody, as reported by ChildWelfare.gov:
- Who spends the most time with the child?
- Which parent can provide a clean and safe environment for the child?
- Which parent has the strongest emotional bond with the child?
- The mental and physical capabilities of each parent.
- Whether there is any domestic violence involved.
Partnering with a family attorney
Men who are seeking equal custody rights to their child may want to partner with a professional family attorney who has experience in dealing with fathers’ rights issues. While you may have a thorough knowledge of Tennessee state divorce law, an established attorney can prove highly valuable in helping to settle your child custody case.