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A Father’s Role: Shifting Societal Values Should Be Reflected In The Courts

Within the family law community, there are attorneys and other professionals who advocate for “fathers’ rights” in divorce and custody proceedings. The existence of this movement comes from a perception that mothers have an advantage in family court proceedings. This perception, while it may be more exaggerated in some locations than others, is one which many family law professionals work hard to counter.

In recent decades, many stakeholders have proactively sought to ensure that courts – and parents – are able to do what is best for children, regardless of what we may or may not view as a traditional role for mothers or fathers. A recent Pew Research report demonstrates that fathers view their parenting role much the same as mothers and balancing parenting time is critical for the well-being of children.

Recently, the Pew Research Center outlined 6 specific facts about American fathers:

  1. Dads see parenting as central to their identity.
  2. Dads are much more involved in child care than they were 50 years ago.
  3. It’s become less common for dads to be their family’s sole breadwinner.
  4. Work-family balance is a challenge for many working fathers.
  5. Despite changing gender roles, many still perceive mothers as better equipped than fathers to care for children.
  6. Seven-in-ten adults say it’s equally important for new babies to bond with their mother and their father.

While the research was not directed at divorced or separated parents, it does demonstrate the increase in fathers viewing themselves as central to raising their children. This is a shift for fathers and the research demonstrates a shift in society’s views as well, though we still have a ways to go. 

This shift in mentality will serve those families who are looking for how to fit into a role after a divorce or separation from their significant other. We can see that it is important that the law and the courts support this societal shift in values as well. 

In Colorado, the statutes that address dissolution of marriage issues and parenting time are gender neutral. While personal experience and individual biases of judges are often a critical unknown, the law mandates that both partners be given a fair opportunity to parent their children, without regard to gender.

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