When it comes to divorce, some long-held beliefs relating to child custody are still the norm nowadays — even though for many parents, and children, they don’t make sense. One of those is that all things being equal, one parent should have primary custody of a child — oftentimes the mother — in order to avoid disruption to kids’ lives. While this works for many families, many fathers feel frozen out of their children’s lives.
One Arizona father has been trying to do something about it. The Apache Junction man — a carpet layer by day and an impassioned equal custody advocate by night — gets every other weekend and some time in the summer with two of his children, but he has put a lot of time and energy into lobbying the state legislature to change divorce and custody laws in the state.
He has made some headway; two laws he has worked on have taken effect in the last couple of years, each of which promotes quality time with both parents and forbids divorce courts and judges from giving preference based on gender — either that of the parent or the child.
One researcher at Arizona State University has found that kids growing up feel that having equal time with both parents is strongly preferred after a divorce. In Arizona, the new law still puts a special emphasis on the best interests of the child; however, that interest now includes a maximum amount of time with each parent.
Source: The Arizona Republic, “Arizona dad fights for rights of divorced fathers,” Alia Beard Rau, June 16, 2012