It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that one of the most dramatic shifts in the last few decades in family law has been the expansion of fathers’ rights. It used to be that fathers were often on the outside looking in when it came to child custody after a divorce, and unmarried fathers had next to no hope at all for being legally recognized.

Nowadays, however, the idea of fathers’ rights isn’t just a dream, it’s a reality. More than ever before, dads are making their cases successfully to have an active role in the lives of their children.

Statistics on the matter bear this out. Nearly 2 million men say they are stay-at-home dads now, which is nearly double the amount from a quarter-century ago. In 1989, only about 5 percent of those men said they stayed at home because they were responsible for caring for their family. Now, however, that figure is greater than 20 percent.

An analysis of divorces in one state also shows how the attitudes toward custody have changed. In the mid-1980s, mothers received sole custody about 80 percent of the time. By 2008, they did only 42 percent of the time. Meanwhile, shared custody of some sort jumped from about 8 percent to 45 percent.

Of course, while times and attitudes have changed, it isn’t automatic that a court will grant 50-50 custody in a given case. It’s still important for divorcing fathers to make sure they have all the tools they need to make a successful argument.

Source: Detroit Free Press, “More dads demand equal custody rights, reject child-support arrangements of yesterday,” Sharon Jayson, June 14, 2014