Feinberg & Waller, APC
800-655-4766
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What Are My Rights as a Father?

Do divorce proceedings have a gender bias? It's a question that is often raised by fathers as they battle for custody either during or following a divorce. Fathers frequently claim that a judge will be more inclined to rule in favor of their ex-spouse when it comes to the kids.

This is an argument that seems on its face to make sense, and in some cases there may very well be a gender bias on the part of the judicial officer hearing your case. That said, judicial officers are trained to avoid such biases and to recuse themselves from the proceedings should something like that come up in their thought processes. Additionally, some people feel that mothers should be the preferred custodial parent simply due to their status as "mother." That way of thinking is becoming more and more antiquated, and frankly as the older judicial officers are retiring and leaving the bench and thus being replaced by those from younger generations we are seeing less and less of this type of bias. That said, if you are confronted with what you believe to be gender bias what can you do?

Unfortunately, specific evidence of a bias may be much more difficult to pin down. Fathers who believe bias exist may be forced to simply voicing their frustration at having been awarded limited access to the kids. Additionally, it is not uncommon for any party to a custody proceeding, man or woman, to feel that the "only" reason they lost is because they feel the judge was biased against their gender form the outset. In the absence of clear evidence to support a finding of bias, the best thing that fathers (both parents actually) can do is be knowledgeable of their rights. The truth of the matter is that fathers do have rights when it comes to divorce. They are not entirely at the mercy of the mother, regardless of her claim to having given birth to the child.

Fathers in California are particularly fortunate on this issue because the California courts are mandated to respect that both parents have equal rights and duties when it comes to children. This is in keeping with the general trend toward gender equality. In addition to this broad position, fathers also have more specifically defined custody rights in divorce. These rights include the right to view school records, decide their child's doctors, and discipline them for misbehaving. A father's rights with regard to custody are guaranteed by virtue of being married. They are not things that can be questioned without justifiable cause. If you believe that your rights as a father are not being upheld, be sure to contact a legal professional. The right legal help can ensure that even with a divorce, you are still able to enjoy fatherhood.

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William A. Feinberg 1928 - 2001

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