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Fathers' rights still a child custody issue

Minnesota fathers are struggling to receive the notice they need and deserve in the state's family courts. News reports show that anecdotal evidence points to fathers' difficulties in obtaining favorable child custody agreements, even though they may be equally qualified to raise their children. Statistics show that this may, in fact, be the case, as just 4 percent of American kids live with their single fathers. That is compared with nearly one in four children who live with single moms.

Single fathers argue that the court system is often biased against them. One man is currently fighting for custody of four of his children, for example, after the mother of the children died. The man had been in prison on a drug-related charge, but he says he is committed to responsibly raising his kids. For now, they remain in the custody of the state. Still, the man has completed parenting classes and has purchased furniture and living accommodations for his children in anticipation of a pending child custody decision. He currently is a single father to one older daughter, age 12.

Although numbers show that even working, single mothers are more likely to be involved in the lives of their children, fathers say they often fail to get a fair shake in family court. They say they must work twice as hard to get the recognition they deserve for the time they spend with their children. Only about one in five custodial parents are fathers. Mothers are also more likely to be on the receiving end of child support.

Both parents - regardless of gender - deserve fair access to their children through equal parenting plans. Fathers should not be shut out of their children's lives because of biased child custody agreements. Dads who think they are being treated unfairly may benefit from the assistance of a family attorney, who can help them learn more about their legal rights and options.

Source: Battle Creek Enquirer, "Single fathers seek equal opportunity" Olivia Lewis, Jan. 03, 2014

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