Louisiana law follows the general U.S. model in that its language supports the notion that a child’s best interest is served when both parents are actively involved in a child’s life. That might be read to mean that both parents should get equal visitation or custody time with children in the event of a divorce, but that isn’t always the way things work out.
It is a sad truth that gender bias favoring the mother is still in evidence today. Dads can often feel they are somehow playing second fiddle in the parenting duet. Fighting for fathers starts with knowing what rights the law allows. If divorcing parents are able to reach accommodation on a custody or visitation plan that suits everyone, that’s good. Sometimes defending rights means mounting a strong argument in court.
We think many would agree that much more can and should be done to ensure that the importance of the role of the father in a child’s life deserves greater acknowledgment and support.
On the bright side, research indicates that fathers are more involved in their children’s lives than ever before. This was reinforced most recently by a study coordinated and published by Promundo. That’s an organization that works to advance gender equality on behalf of fathers and mothers.
The organization’s “State of America’s Fathers” report finds greater engagement on the part of fathers, a trend that has earned the moniker “fatherhood revolution.” However, it also finds that most fathers don’t feel they get enough support from society in general – to a point where there is something of a gap based on economic lines. Fathers in upper income brackets enjoy fairly strong encouragement to fulfill their parenting roles, while those in lower income brackets are effectively penalized.
In response, the study’s authors suggest action that includes:
- Imposing a 1 percent payroll tax that could be used to pay for paid, equal-time leaves for both parents of a newborn
- Establishing a baseline living wage and legal reforms to encourage fathers in caregiving
- Broader application of joint physical custody where no history of physical violence exists
- Beef up education and services around reproductive health and choice
- Encourage employers to value parental caregiving as much as they value business achievements.
Should it happen? What do you think?