Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fathers' rights need to be defended

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Fathers' rights need to be defended
By Jeffery M. Leving

Fathers’ rights are almost always side stepped, yet they are extremely important when it comes to insuring the proper growth and maturity of young children.

Without a father present in a child’s life, statistics show, a child faces a greater future of uncertainty.

Too often, father’s are either reluctant to fight for their rights in a dissolving marriage or believe that surrendering their rights in a divorce avoids a confrontation and is therefore in the best interests of the children. This is unfortunate.

There is also the societal belief perpetrated by gender bias that the raising of children in a divorced family must always be handled by the mother. That’s not the case.

It’s not. The best way for a father to guarantee the future of his child or children is to insure that they remain a part of his life. Oftentimes, that means retaining custody of the children.

Fathers need to understand that they must insist on their rights when seeking to protect the best interests of their children. They need to understand them. It is not what they know that will hurt them, but what they don’t know. They’re not fighting just for themselves, but for their children.

In many years of defending the rights of fathers, I’ve seen that it is not as difficult as it sometimes seems. Fathers who have stood up for what they believed in have, in most cases, retained their rights and remained active and involved in the lives of their children.

A divorce is not an easy experience for anyone, but fathers can help preserve the integrity of their relationship with their children simply by asserting those rights. Don’t give up your rights believing that you are doing your children a favor by avoiding conflict. In many cases, conflict is inevitable even when a father  surrenders his custody rights to his spouse. It’s important to not surrender those rights when your children need you, and to insure that you have a say in your children’s futures.

This is also true for visitation and parenting time.

Protecting your visitation and parenting time helps insure your role in your children’s lives at school, after school and in their everyday extra-curricular activities including in sports and music and even the Scouts.

Fatherless children are at a greater risk than other children. They are more vulnerable to incidents of abuse when a father is not present. They are also more susceptible to drug and alcohol use.

There is no way to predict what challenges fatherless children might face in the future. But you can fight the odds which have shown that children who do not have a father in their lives are more susceptible to problems across the board.

Insuring that the father remains in their lives minimizes the disruption to their lives, and that’s a critical goal.

You may not be able to save your marriage. You may not be able to maintain even a cordial relationship with an ex-spouse. But, by protecting your parental rights, you will likely insure that the interests of your children are protected.

That’s something worth fighting for.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t be a victim of the divorce or a target looking for an arrow. Don’t allow your feelings for an ex-spouse to blind you to your responsibilities to your children and yourself.

You will survive the trauma of a divorce far more successfully and in better health by standing up for your rights and your children.

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at