Once upon a time, you could count on the courts granting mothers preferential treatment in custody battles. But this is no longer the case. Increasingly, in Indiana and elsewhere, fathers have more influence and more say in the upbringing of their children. They certainly have rights in the divorce process that should not be overlooked. This is a change that in part reflects fathers' changing role in America in general.
Dads are more involved
According to a Pew Research Center study, dads now spend an average of seven hours a week on child care. While this number is still dwarfed by women's 15 hours of weekly child care, it represents nearly triple the time men spent on child care per week in 1965.
The rise of the dual-income household
Whereas fathers' traditional role has been that of the breadwinner while mothers would stay at home to tend the house and take care of children, this old pattern has been breaking down for quite a while. In households where just one parent works, it's still more likely to be the father trudging off to the office. But more commonly, both parents work. By necessity, this means that it no longer falls to just one person to have primary responsibility for the children.
Unmarried fathers can have rights, too
If you were not married to the mother of your children, you don't have to give up all rights as a father if the relationship doesn't work out. However, you do have to establish legal paternity before you can assert any custody or visitation rights. Establishing paternity also means that you have a legal responsibility to pay child support.
Don't give up on your children. You have rights.
If you're splitting from your spouse or partner, it's easy to feel stressed about what the new arrangement will mean for your relationship with your children. If you're a father, don't assume that all the rights automatically revert to the mother. Talk to an experienced family law attorney to discuss your situation and learn your rights.