Posted on behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA
People in Maryland may have seen an editorial in the news recently that dealt with the developing trend of fathers taking a stand to exercise their paternal rights. While the traditional concern may have been that fathers in non-marital situations were not willing or able to be active parents or even financial supporters of the child, a number of recent cases seem to illustrate a pendulum swing in the opposite direction.
Thanks in part to some high-profile fathers who have taken their fight for legal custody to the courts, the movement for fathers’ rights seems to be gaining a lot of momentum. Many fathers feel that they should have equal rights as the mother when it comes to raising their children, and will fight for the recognition and enforcement of these rights.
There is widespread popular opinion, even among women, that the courts are slanted towards the mother in custody disputes. The court may start with a presumption of joint custody, but there are always other factors involved. In Maryland, the primary driving factor in custody decisions is the best interests of the child, and each parent’s rights are presumably equal unless there is some evidence that would justify anything to the contrary. In instances where the child is in the primary residential custody of one parent, that custody could be contingent upon the continuing cooperation and willingness to maintain a working parenting relationship with the other parent.
Fathers in the past and present may not be satisfied with infrequent visitation or anything less than a 50/50 time sharing arrangement. Fathers who feel like they are secondary citizens in their children’s lives have adequate legal remedies, but they should always have the counsel of an experienced family law attorney to guide them through these difficult and complicated proceedings.
Source: Slate “Dad’s Day in Court,” Hanna Rosin, May 13, 2014