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Value changes reflect new outcomes in child custody cases

Despite the traditional belief that mothers do better than fathers in child custody matters, the statistics for the nation, including in Georgia, show a dramatic change. Currently, some sources say that both parents are generally equal when it comes to child custody dispositions. According to the consensus of various authors and academics in the field, it appears that the real area of discrimination today in family court is the favoring of those who can afford legal counsel over those who cannot.

There are still active men’s groups that are lobbying for equal rights in custody cases. They are easily found and heard on the Internet. Additionally, the public perception is that courts are unfair to fathers, according to one custody expert from a major university. The statistics, however, do not validate that public belief. There was a strong bias in the sixties and even in the seventies, but the revolution in gender equality that transpired over the past 40 years has leveled the playing field, according to some sources.

Studies indicate that the percentage of divorce cases where the mother got sole custody has dropped below 50 percent and the number of joint custody awards has risen substantially. There has also been a dramatic increase in mothers paying child support, according to a survey performed by a matrimonial lawyers association. According to a Berkeley law professor, her study reveals that family courts now prefer the “friendly parent,” which indicates the parent who can more successfully adjust to the idea of sharing custody.

Thus, a parent who comes off with an inflexible approach and who tries to obstruct the other’s involvement will generally lose rights in today’s custody courts. The category of fathers who may still face a daunting challenge in a child custody court, whether in Georgia or elsewhere, are those who did not marry the mother and did not stake an early role in active fathering. Even for that difficult position, experts indicate that strong legal resources and representation may make a positive difference.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Divorce and custody: Dads getting a better deal", Hanna Rosin, May 18, 2014

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