Years ago, the standard family dynamic was that the mother stayed home and raised the children while the father went to work and earned the paycheck. Fathers were usually not hands-on when it came to taking care of the children, with that responsibility left to the mothers. As more and more women began to join the workforce, fathers’ roles began to evolve and it became more commonplace – and accepted – that dads could play just as big a role as moms in the nurturing and care of the children.
And just like mothers believe that being a parent is a central part of their identity, studies show that more and more fathers feel the same way, something that was unheard of just a couple of decades ago.
One aspect of this new reality, however, is that the courts were still slow to change their concept of how child custody should be awarded and until fairly recently, mothers were still awarded primary custody in the majority of custody cases.
But all of that has begun to change. Today, in the most family law courtrooms, judges make their decisions regarding custody based on what is in the best interest of the child instead of non-evidence-based gender presumptions. Judges now prefer to approve parenting plans where the child will still have a significant relationship with both parents instead of the “every other weekend father” situation.
There have also been multiple studies done which reinforce how important it is for a child to have their father actively involved in their life. Children whose fathers do not play a significant role often suffer from the following:
- They are less likely to have good self-esteem
- They are less likely to do well in school
- They are more likely to use alcohol and drugs
- They are more likely to suffer from depression
- They are more likely to have behavioral issues
- They are more likely to be dishonest
What are some ways fathers can play a more active co-parenting role after a divorce?
Not every custody case will result in a joint physical custody situation, however, there are many ways that fathers can extend the time they spend with their children, to which a child visitation lawyer Rockville, MD trusts can attest to. These are all factors which can be included in the parenting plan the court approves:
- Take children back and forth to school as much as possible.
- Pick children up from daycare or after school program.
- Pick a couple of set nights during the week to have dinner with your children. Instead of eating out, make it even more fun by cooking dinner together at your home.
- Fill in the gaps between the “every other weekend” schedules. For example, on the weekends they are with their mother, make that Monday night one of your “dinner nights” with your children.
- Schedule more time to be with your children during school vacations. Make sure to address how school vacations and holidays will be divided in your parenting plan.
Thank you to our contributors at The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight on divorce law.