The question of the role of the father and how it changes after divorce has been ongoing since the 1960’s, when divorce rates across the country started to go up. The traditional role of the father as the breadwinner of the family made it almost a foregone conclusion that his paternal role would diminish once the divorce was final.
Fortunately, that view has evolved as the courts increasingly recognize the presence of the father in the child’s life as part of what serves the child’s best interests. Florida’s custody laws now recognize that both parents share equal rights to child custody.
The traditional role of the father before and after divorce
According to a report on the changing role of the father published by the Pew Research Center some time ago, during marriage mothers typically spent twice as much time as fathers with the children during their formative years, creating stronger bonds during this early involvement.
Fathers who live with their children typically are active in daily activities such as sharing meals, playtime and offering help with homework. But according to the study, after divorce only 22% of fathers saw their children more than once a week, one third saw their children between one and four times per month, and almost a third had no contact with them at all.
Astonishingly, in nearly half the cases, the decision for the mother to be the custodial parent was mutually agreed upon by both parents. Today, data from the Census Bureau shows that only 20% of men are custodial parents, and this percentage has not changed significantly over time.
Deciding what is in the best interests of the child
In Florida, couples going through divorce may choose to work out a divorce settlement on their own, with a mediator or through the court system. Any time sharing or custodial arrangement must be in the best interests of the child, and the court will examine some factors when making these decisions:
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs, including nurturing, a stable home environment and consistent routine
- Each parent’s willingness to encourage a relationship of the child to the other parent
- Each parent’s mental, physical and moral fitness
- A history of domestic violence
- The child’s developmental age
At the end of the day, a father who wants to remain in his child’s has the law on his side, and finding out how to advocate for those parental rights in Pensacola is the first step toward achieving that goal.