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Divorced fathers may struggle for equal rights

Maryland fathers who are divorcing may hope to get joint physical and legal custody of their children, but they may find that even a court order does not grant them the rights they expect. In some cases, mothers may use loopholes to deny them time with or influence over their children. Fathers who attend medical appointments and school events might feel that the mother's opinions and concerns are given greater weight than theirs.

However, those fathers who do manage to get joint physical custody may still be the lucky ones. Courts still often award primary physical custody to mothers. Fathers may find themselves painted as unreliable or lazy.

Because court orders cannot anticipate every special circumstance, fathers might also find themselves denied the right to have their children attend their wedding or spend Father's Day with them. Fathers who have been away on deployment might ask for extra time with their children and be refused. This dynamic may arise because mothers have a deep-seated fear of losing their children, but they should also consider the importance of the child's relationship with their father and the father's feelings.

Ideally, during a divorce, mothers and fathers can come to an agreement during mediation and also learn conflict resolution skills to use after the marriage has ended. Fathers should make an effort to think ahead to situations such as Father's Day, vacations and holidays and ask that provisions be written into the parenting plan. They may even want to discuss with their attorneys how to handle time with future partners or possibilities such as weddings or relocation. If mediation is unsuccessful, the parents may have to turn to litigation. A judge attempts to make a decision that is in the child's best interests, but this might be contrary to one of the parent's beliefs.

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