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Fathers in custody disputes: a few things to think about

Time sharing, parenting plans, meaningful access: These are of equal importance to caring parents involved in the divorce process, regardless of gender. Loving parents -- both moms and dads -- will want to ensure that they foster a strong, close and continuing relationship with their children, whether they have physical custody as the primary caregiver or seek meaningful access as the non-custodial parent.

More divorce-related stories and topics center these days on the rights of non-custodial fathers than used to be the case, whether in Florida or elsewhere. As many commentators have noted, child custody hearings and outcomes in 2013 are in many instances markedly different than they customarily were not that many years ago.

Many judicial assumptions have been tempered by new realities at work in many homes -- such as women working outside the home, many men assuming more of a caregiver role, more shared parental responsibilities -- that have created new presumptions in favor of joint custody.

Often this has meant a greater role for fathers following divorce than was the case in the past. Noting that, one marital law commentator says that active dads involved in custody disputes should make it clear from the very start -- not passively and only later in the process -- exactly what they seek in terms of continuing access to their kids if they are not the primary caregivers. That necessitates showing the court a well-considered and meticulous plan (most often developed with the help of an experienced attorney) that convinces a judge that the children's best interests are at heart and will be promoted.

And dads need to do one other thing, namely, conduct research that will lead them to the right attorney to represent them. That means a lawyer "who will understand your reasons and help you in presenting your best case."

Source: Huffington Post, "Custody battles: the top five things dads should know before setting foot in court," Morghan Leia Richardson, May 23, 2013

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