Proposed Changes to State Custody Laws Strengthen Fathers’ Rights

For many years, fathers have argued for more parity in custody arrangements. But instead of making their case to a judge, they are now helping promote bills that would alter state laws pertaining to custody arrangements.

As recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, 20 states are currently considering legislation regarding shared parenting. The proposals call for judges to “maximize” time spent with each parent. In New York and Washington State, the proposed law requires equal time among parents unless a judge deems it in the best interest of the child to rule otherwise.

Opponents of the bill are concerned that limiting the discretion of judges may not end up actually reflecting the true parenting needs of the child, which can be difficult to ascertain. Advocates worry that this will provide undue advantage to fathers who have been physically or emotionally abusive if a de facto time split is implemented. Additionally, they suggest that the laws primarily affect cases where parents are particularly hostile to one another and unable to sustain cooperative agreements without court intervention. 

Those favoring the legislation point to studies that indicate that shared parenting responsibilities have been demonstrated to improve outcomes for children. They argue that without more time with their children they are not able to actually parent and supply those benefits two-parent children enjoy.

Although it is unlikely that all 20 bills will pass, advocates are hoping that passage of even just a handful of bills can be leveraged to continue promoting a movement toward shared parenting and more significant parental rights for fathers.  

If you’d like to discuss the potential impact of these proposed laws or need help with maintaining your rights as a father, consult a skilled family law attorney with Bryan L. Salamone & Associates.

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