I think the best material for a blog is straightforward, clear answers to common questions. I have been getting a lot of questions lately about the Fathers’ Rights Movement and whether I am a Fathers’ Right Lawyer. So here’s a little bit about that.
Family law and family courts have traditionally been unfair to men. I don’t think there’s any debate about that. The assumption was that children will be better off with mom and that, after a divorce, dad’s role is to see the children every other weekend and pay mom child support. If you were gonna ask for a different arrangement, you better have a good reason. And because dad was usually the one paying mom, child support was viewed as a punishment for being a father. Joint custody or shared custody was seen as harmful to children because it reduced stability.
Has that changed? Well, it depends on where you are. Truthfully, it hasn’t changed a lot in rural areas in Arkansas, where traditional gender roles are stronger. There are certain counties and certain judges that, no matter what the circumstances, just aren’t going to give a father custody unless mom is an absolutely terrible parent.
Laws (and the lawyers and judges that use them) change slowly. (This is good if you want to be able to make sure your will is going to work in fifty years; it’s bad if you’re a good dad and you want the law to treat you like one.) The Fathers’ Rights Movement grew out of a frustration that family courts are unfair to dads and haven’t caught up with the cultural shift towards shared parenting roles. The organization is a strong proponent of shared custody or joint custody and fairer child support laws.
Some law firms market themselves specifically to men as an attempt to tap into this frustration. (The most notable example is Cordell and Cordell, which just put an office in Little Rock.) I think this is smart marketing, although I don’t think that a Fathers’ Rights Lawyer necessarily has any advantage. Most family lawyers represent both mother and fathers and, since roughly half of our cases would involve dads, I think that’s all the experience you need.
So, if the solution isn’t necessarily to hire a Fathers’ Right Lawyer, what’s a dad to do? Move to Little Rock. If that’s not practical, make sure you hire someone who regularly practices in your county. He or she will know the judges and be able to tell you how they tend to rule.
And if you do happen to live in Pulaski, Saline, Lonoke, or Faulkner counties, call us!