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New women’s group seeks to promote fathers’ rights in parenting

New women's group seeks to promote fathers' rights in parenting

What does feminist and former president of the National Organization for Women Karen DeCrow have in common with Phyllis Schlafly, a noted ultra-conservative and founder of the Eagle Forum, a group fighting for traditional family values? They're both founding members of a new advocacy group aimed at complementing the efforts of the fathers' rights movement.

The new group, which was organized in May on an invitation-only basis, is called Leading Women for Shared Parenting, or LW4SP. Members include congresswomen from both parties, family law professors and attorneys, social workers, domestic violence advocates -- and daughters and granddaughters, Their goal is greater gender equity into child custody and visitation orders by family courts across the U.S. and Canada.

According to statistics cited by the group, men and women aren’t in a “war.” Indeed, they’re not working at cross-purposes and they don’t have opposing interests in child custody and parenting decisions. On the contrary -- the statistics showed no noticeable difference between men and women in their approval of more-equally shared parenting arrangements.

Statistics also show that, despite family courts in Illinois and in most other states having changed their laws to prevent overt sexism, moms still receive more favorable child custody and parenting orders than dads in a substantial majority of cases. That’s not good for anyone, argues LW4SP.

Under the custody and visitation arrangement most common in Illinois and most states, parents have equivalent rights to make legal decisions regarding their children, but one parent -- typically the mother -- gets to spend the majority of the time with the kids. Dads often find themselves relegated to a secondary parental status with the time they get to spend with their children legally restricted.

Not only is that situation a serious denigration of fathers’ rights and value as parents, LW4SP argues, but it also sets children up for negative experiences. If dad wants more time with the kids than provided in the c parenting order, childhood can easily turn into a gloomy round of arguments and courtroom disputes. If he accepts the status quo, the kids may spend their childhoods with an essentially absent father. Moreover, when dads are given primary custody, kids are put in the same unenviable position with their moms.

Illinois state law requires that child custody and visitation decisions must be made in the best interest of the children -- and it also recognizes that kids almost always benefit from having both parents in their lives. Something new needs to be done, and LW4SP hopes to help the fathers’ rights movement to get it done.

LW4SP group was founded just last month and plans for an official launch this Father’s Day, June 16.

Source: The Star Tribune, "Rosenblum: Divorced dads get big gift from fired-up moms," Gail Rosenblum, June 8, 2013

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