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Men continue fight for fathers' rights in family courts

Many people in Clarksville, Tennessee, may have noticed the immense media frenzy surrounding the child custody disputes involving celebrity fathers such as actor, Jason Patric and Olympic skier, Bode Miller. Another case that prompted media attention involved a group of fathers suing a state for passing a law that allows mothers to put up their children for adoption without the fathers' consent. By means of their fight for fathers' rights, these people have now become role models to a huge population of fathers in a similar situation.

In the past, women typically worried about men disappearing after conceiving a child or getting divorced. But now, the situation has changed. Due to a growing fathers' rights movement in the country, a number of groups have been expressing their opinions on numerous platforms, explicitly shunning the practice of paying child support and visiting the child once in a fortnight. Instead, they are pushing to be more involved in raising their children.

A recent study shows that although many people prefer joint custody, family courts still tend to prefer the mothers as the sole custodian, in spite of the "tender years' doctrine" becoming steadily obsolete with changing times and gender dynamics.

Another important area of concern for fathers' rights advocates is the parental rights of unwed fathers. Although permitted by courts, obtaining child custody and visitation rights may be challenging for many fathers.

There is, however, some good news for fathers in Tennessee and the rest of the country. A recent study of child-custody outcomes in a Midwestern state focused on divorce cases between 1986 and 2007 showed that sole custody to mothers reduced from 60.4 percent to 45.7 percent during the period. Within the same span of time, joint custody judgments increased from 15.8 percent to 30.5 percent.

Fathers in Tennessee should be relieved to know that state laws have evolved and any decision regarding child custody and visitation is decided after conducting an in-depth best interest analysis, which is an open-ended evaluation, specific to each case. Tennessee also recognizes rights of unwed fathers and an unwed father can expect to be treated fairly in during the preparation of a parenting plan.

Source: The Cap Times, "Hanna Rosin: Dad's day in court," Hanna Rosin, May 29, 2014

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