We're About More Than Divorce

Fathers’ Day, Fathers’ Rights: The History of Paternal Rights in Oregon

Fathers’ Day is June 20th, so it’s time to start celebrating everything dads do for their kids. A great father can help his kids grow and thrive. If you’re a father, you know how important it is to be a role model, support system, and friend to your child.

While men are just as able to raise their children as women are, they haven’t always had the opportunity to do so. That’s why the Fathers’ Rights movement began. Keep reading to learn about your rights as a dad, the push for paternal rights, and how you can fight for your kids in Oregon.

What Are Fathers’ Rights?

At first glance, paternal rights seem obvious. The Fathers’ Rights movement argues that fathers have just as much right and ability to raise their children as mothers do. The problem is that not everyone agrees with that statement. There is a common bias that dads are less capable of caring for children than mothers, which is a problem in child custody cases.

That’s why many dads need to fight for their right to care for their kids. It’s not enough to trust the judicial system to be fair. It’s all too common for men to lose out on time with their children because their co-parent made the most of a judge’s subconscious biases. Fathers’ Rights activists and attorneys can help dads appeal decisions and get their kids back when that happens.

The movement didn’t spring up out of nowhere. Dads have been trying to keep custody of their kids despite gender bias for decades. Here’s how the struggle got started.

The History of Fathers’ Rights in the US

Historically, dads have had a bumpy ride. Before the 20th century, divorce rarely ever occurred. If it did, then fathers got their children by default. This was partly because women at the time could rarely support themselves and partly because the court system favored men in every case.

As divorce became more common, this started to change. The belief in the first half of the 20th century was that women were simply better at raising children. Combined with a rising female employment rate, the assumption became women could both support and nurture their children better than men. Many judges awarded full custody to mothers by default. Meanwhile, fathers were required to pay large child support payments without having access to their kids, regardless of what they wanted.

In the ’60s and ’70s, dads started to fight back. Divorce rates were rising dramatically, and the bias against paternal custody became obvious. Men who felt unfairly cut off from their families began campaigning for changes to the law. That’s how the Fathers’ Rights movement was founded.

The movement argued for two major changes to the laws around the country:

  1. Adding the rebuttable presumption that shared parenting is best for kids. This presumption has become standard nationwide. It requires courts to start child custody decisions assuming that letting kids see both parents equally is in their best interest. Any split other than 50/50 needs to be justified.
  2. Increasing penalties for parenting time interference. Some people attempt to ignore parenting time agreements. Activists fight to increase penalties for this behavior to protect men, who they believe are less likely to have enough time with their kids.

The movement still has a long way to go. In 2014, just one in six of all custodial parents were fathers. Of those fathers, less than a third had official child custody agreements in place.

Fighting for Fathers’ Rights in Oregon

There are two situations when you may need to stand up for yourself and your kids. First, if you and your co-parent agree to share custody, you’ll need to set a schedule for who gets the kids and when.

Some judges are biased towards mothers. They may assume that you don’t want your children as much as your co-parent does. If you don’t speak up, you could wind up with an unfair time split, seeing your kids just every other weekend and for a few weeks over the summer.

In this case, you need to make it clear that you want equal custody. Otherwise, your child’s mother can easily argue for a larger proportion of the time. It’s worth working with a lawyer to get a fair parenting schedule put in place.

The second situation is unique to Oregon. If either parent requests sole custody, then Oregon courts are required to give someone sole custody. That means that if your children’s mother asks for full custody, the court will need to decide whether you or she will get the kids full-time.

This makes your life difficult. If you weren’t expecting to have to fight for sole guardianship, then you may not be prepared. Meanwhile, your ex-partner has probably already prepared her case. It’s all too easy to lose your children entirely if you get blindsided like that.

You can still fight back. Oregon allows for either parent to petition the court to modify a child custody order. You need to prove three things.

  1. Your own or your co-parent’s circumstances have changed in a way that affects the custodial parents’ ability to care for the kids.
  2. A change in the custody order is in your kid’s best interest.
  3. The benefits of the change outweigh any negative effects.

Working with an attorney can help you prove all three elements and make your medication more likely to succeed.

Embrace the Rights and Responsibilities of Fatherhood

There’s no better time to fight for your kids than Fathers’ Day. If you believe that your child custody arrangement is unfair, you can take steps to fix it. Take advantage of Oregon’s child custody laws and appeal the order.

You can work with a qualified Fathers’ Rights attorney to make that happen. You have just as much right to raise your children as their mother does. It’s never too late to fight for your family. Reach out today for your free consultation and begin the battle for your babies today.