Fathers’ Custody Rights in American Law
Gender disparity in parenting rights has an long and inconsistent history in American law, which has created the need for men in Oklahoma to secure the services of a Tulsa fathers rights lawyer.
Changes over time have favored men, then women, and now both parents. Unfortunately, not all courts have left behind some of the outdated legal doctrines, regardless of legislators’ efforts to the contrary.
Until the early 20th century, a woman’s role in the family was described as “coverture.” Now an archaic concept, the legal structure represented one of the oldest ideas about marriage — that a man and woman become one in a marriage. This idea is found in the Christian Bible, spoken in reference to even older concepts of marriage.
Scholars who have reviewed legal documents from Europe’s Middle Ages question the extent to which coverture was applied in various jurisdictions. While coverture is widely considered to have given men nearly exclusive property rights, scholars found examples where women enjoyed greater property rights than the limited view of coverture would allow.
New Myths Founded on Modern Bias
With the rise of modern feminist movements, some modern academics hastily describe coverture as something like slavery. It is common to hear claims that wives were considered “chattel” of men — essentially disposable property.
A more careful review puts that analysis more in the category of allegory than studious explanation of historic legal concepts. Looking back from the perspective of today’s sensibilities, it might seem the coverture was no more than chattel slavery, but the differences were more than nuance. They are distinct legal concepts, including in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Among other differences, husbands in Western nations that adopted coverture could not sell their wives as if they were slaves. Nonetheless, a reasonable assumption allows that married men were considered heads of households in various contexts until the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. As a result, courts interpreted divorce laws through the 19th century to give fathers full custody of the children.
With the advent of modern communications and transportation technology, ideas began to change. The changes tended to isolate children from fathers in divorced families.
The Pendulum Swings to Favor Mothers
By the early 20th century, women’s suffrage and other feminist movements were causing dramatic changes in American divorce laws. This environment led to a new presumption that was equally unfair. The “tender years doctrine” stated that young children needed a women’s maternal guidance. Consequently, this doctrine mandated that custody of most young children should be awarded to mothers.
Yet the changes did not stop there, nor did the pendulum swing ever more in favor of women as mothers.
The civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s caused many state legislatures to reconsider their unfair divorce laws. An important change was the implementation of no-fault divorce laws.
Before this, one spouse had to file for divorce on specific legal grounds such as abandonment, adultery, physical abuse, mental cruelty, or other horrific behaviors. In order for the divorce to be granted, one spouse had to be found “guilty” by the court and the other spouse declared “innocent.”
No-fault divorce allowed couples to agree to divorce for the simple reason of irreconcilable differences. Another important change in divorce laws was gender-neutral custody determinations. Many state legislatures wrote statutes to specifically declare that neither parent would receive a custody preference due to his or her gender.
In recent decades, science has informed the direction of some family law decisions. Legislatures and courts recognize that children who have access to both parents often develop into adults with fewer emotional and intellectual complications than those raised primarily by one parent.
So why is it important to hire a Tulsa fathers rights lawyer? The fact remains that some spouses, attorneys, and judges have not fully accepted gender-neutral custody laws. This fact is not always obvious.
Rather than asking a court to award custody to mother because she is a woman, an attorney might claim that the mother is more “nurturing” or “loving”, or use some other euphemism. An experienced Tulsa fathers rights lawyer will recognize that language and be able to bring it to the judge’s attention.
Consult a Tulsa Fathers Rights Lawyer
If you are a father fighting for custody of your children, it is vital to hire an attorney who understands fathers’ legal rights and knows how to fight for them in court. My team and I have helped many Tulsa fathers protect their legal rights. We can help your family, too.
Fathers have important legal rights. Unfortunately, these rights have not always been protected by American custody laws. By hiring a Tulsa attorney who is experienced in the specific issues facing fathers, you can rest assured that your rights are being aggressively defended.
Call (918) 986-7724 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We know how to fight for fathers’ legal rights, and we protect families from unfair attacks on fathers.