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Family courts should account for the stay-at-home dad

A recent study found that between 1989 and 2012, the number of stay-at-home dads nearly doubled. This phenomenon reflects changing social norms when it comes to gender and parenting roles. It is no longer an oddity for a man to take a more active role in the raising of his children.

However, because the family structure of the stay-at-home dad and the career mom flip traditional gender roles on their head, stay-at-home dads and career moms must each deal with certain cultural biases. When couples divorce, these biases can weigh especially heavy on stay-at-home dads.

Do stay-at-home dads have the same rights in a divorce as stay-at-home moms do?
The short answer is "yes." The more complete answer is that the judges carrying out the law may still have certain biases that give men an unfair shake. However, if stay-at-home dads are able to articulate their legal positions well, they can overcome this obstacle to receive fair treatment. After all, most judges want to do the right thing.

It has long been customary for stay-at-home moms to receive primary custody of children, as well as child support and alimony payments. Stay-at-home dads deserve the same treatment under the law. Thankfully, divorce laws themselves make no distinction based on the sex of spouses when it comes to issues of child custody, alimony, and property divisions. If a man can prove that it is in the best interest of the child, he can receive custody of children. Men also have the same rights as women to receive child custody and alimony payments, and to have an equitable distribution of property.

Changing family structures force courts to confront traditional gender norms; but, ultimately the law makes no distinction between the rights of spouses based on gender. It is up to courts to reject cultural biases and uphold the law. The best way a stay-at-home dad can ensure that this happens is to contact an experienced divorce attorney to help them with their case.

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