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Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

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FATHERS’ RIGHTS
NOT JUST EVERY OTHER WEEKEND

This is about fathers' rights law, and protecting the best interests of your children. It provides information, news and comments on laws, cases and strategies for life as a single father and winning your custody, access or child support case.

Archive for August, 2008

Definition of Dad

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

“A Dad is a guy with no  money and a lot of pictures.” — Anon

Demoted to Thanksgiving if You’re Lucky Dad

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Clark Rockefeller made headlines when he took his seven year old daughter in Boston on July 27 during his first supervised visitation with a social worker.  Rockefeller lost custody last December when the mother relocated to London for work.

Rockefeller turned himself in in Baltimore and now faces felony charges in Boston.

Some websites portray Rockefeller as a hero of fathers’ rights and are using his case to draw attention to problems with the family court system.

Dahlia Lithwick, writing at Slate.Com, recognizes these problems:

“Many good fathers will be downgraded from full-time dads to alternating-weekend-carpool dads. They will be asked to pay at least one-third of their salaries in child support for that privilege. Simple rules of modern life make it likely that an ex-wife will someday decide that a job or new husband demands a move to a faraway state. At which point the alternating-weekend-carpool dad is again demoted—to a Thanksgivings-if-you’re-lucky dad.”

But, she notes, that “lionizing Clark Rockefeller or other violent, lawless fathers will not promote fathers’ rights or fix the family-court system.”

She’s right.  The system is imperfect.  But until we come up with something better, it’s the best we’ve got.  As Rockefeller found out, taking the law into your own hands will not work.

Child Custody Rights or Parental Responsibilities?

Friday, August 8th, 2008

By Jill H. Breslau

Language can impact our thinking and behavior. Language in statutes regarding custody, for example, can influence –if only in a subtle way—how we perceive our relationship to our children.

For example, in Maryland, where I practice now, and many other states, custody of your own children is described as a right. As a parent, you have a right to the companionship of your children, you have the right to teach and guide them, to nurture them, to direct, and control their behavior. You have the right to decide where your children go to school, whether and where they attend religious services, what kind of medical treatment they receive and from whom. In Maryland, custody may be shared or sole, and the other parent may be awarded access or visitation.

In Florida, where I used to practice, and in several other states, the “custody” and “rights” language has been deliberately replaced by different vocabulary with a different perspective. Parents in Florida are not awarded custody. Instead, parents have responsibility for their children, and parental responsibility, at divorce, can be shared by both parents or can be delegated to one parent alone. With shared parental responsibility, parents share time with their children and both parents are entitled to have full information about the children and to share in major decision-making for the children. Sole parental responsibility is awarded only when sharing would be detrimental to a child.

I believe the difference in language—rights versus responsibilities—impacts the way we approach custody in divorce. If we believe in our rights, then we have to fight for them, and we have to win them. Our children, on some level, are perceived as objects to be gained or lost. There is a sense of ownership, rather than relationship.

On the other hand, if we perceive that we are undertaking responsibilities to our children, we may be more cautious about considering what is really best for them. We may be more focused on how we can accomplish the tasks associated with child-rearing than on establishing our parenting superiority.

 
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