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Does Family Law Ignore How Important Dads Are?

Life is a lot different than it was just 10 years ago. Society’s expectations of fathers are higher than perhaps ever before, and dads all across New York are stepping up to the plate. But that active involvement seems to mean little when it comes to securing parenting time after a divorce. Family law has yet to catch up with what many researchers now agree is best for young children — to spend more nights with their dads.

Although opinions varied on specific ages, the general consensus used to be that children younger than around 4 or 6 years old should only sleep at one home. Despite a shift among researchers and practitioners who study this issue, courts still tend to default to moms when it comes to infants, toddlers and young children. This means that a lot of kids are spending every night with mom and none at all with dad.

This does not create the stable environment that most people expect. In fact, preventing attentive, active and loving fathers from having overnight custody of their kids actually hinders their emotional development. Study after study shows that young kids whose parents split overnight custody develop more secure, lifelong bonds with both their moms and their dads. The transition between households does not destabilize infants and toddlers lives.

Researchers agree that both parents should do their very best to maximize parenting time after divorce regardless of their children’s age. Demonstrating that in a family law court might not be easy, though. Some dads in New York are understandably worried about how to approach getting more parenting time, so they choose to speak with an experienced attorney about their options.