Connecticut fathers increasingly seeking equal custody rights

More fathers are seeking joint custody of their children. Experts believe that changing social norms account for the shift.

With both divorce and couples who never marry having children commonplace in Connecticut and across the U.S., the traditional stereotype of mothers having custody of children and fathers only visiting after parents split up is changing. Fathers in 2014 are more frequently pushing to have shared custody of their children.

Shifting cultural norms

Many experts believe that the rise in the number of fathers seeking custody of their children is due to experiences that today's fathers had while growing up. Many who were children of divorce, where the expectation was that the mother would get custody of the children and the father would have a limited amount of visitation time, are now parents themselves. They want a different type of relationship with their children than they had with their fathers.

Additionally, dual-income households are now normal in the U.S., rather than the expectation that a mother stays home to raise children. As such, fathers share more of the parenting duties today than they have in the past. Experts suggest that the recession may have accelerated the trend of fathers sharing in parenting duties, as many fathers who lost their jobs during the recession became stay-at-home fathers while looking for new work. A 2012 Pew Research study showed that 2 million men reported they were stay-at-home fathers, and 23 percent of them were so because they were looking for work. In 1989, only 1.1 million men said they were stay-at-home fathers.

Statistics support anecdotal reports of a rise in fathers seeking custody. According to a study published online in the journal Demography, a review of 9,873 divorce cases from 1986 to 2008 revealed that the number of mothers receiving sole custody dropped from 80 percent to 42 percent. The number of equally shared custody cases rose from 5 percent to 27 percent, and unequally shared custody cases rose from 3 percent to 18 percent.

Custody outside marriage

Another societal trend that is contributing to the increase in fathers seeking custody is parents who live together but are not married. In such cases, fathers need to take legal action to establish their paternal rights, unlike fathers who are married to the mothers of their children.

Speak with an attorney

Courts are frequently awarding joint custody to parents, rather than assuming the mother is the fitter parent. However, child custody cases can become contentious when each parent is pushing for more time with the child. If you are involved in a child custody dispute, it is important to have the assistance of a seasoned child custody attorney who can help you present your position most persuasively to the court and help you protect your relationship with your child. If you have questions about child custody matters in Connecticut, speak with an experienced Connecticut child custody attorney who can advise you based on your specific circumstances.

Keywords: child custody; divorce; parenting time