Custody Battle: Dad's Story – A new generation of fathers is fighting for custody – and a fair shake in court:
“Yes, but who's going to cook them dinner?” When Ben Oshman got that question from a judge hearing his request for custody of his three kids, he was furious. Because whatever new challenges moms have these days, when it comes to custody, things haven't changed much for dads—especially the gender-based stereotypes that render them the second most important parent.
But now, dads are fighting back, demanding custody where custody's due. Their motivation is simple: “I wanted to have kids. I wanted to have the family,” says Oshman, who ended up getting joint custody of his three girls. To him, divorce “didn't mean I should have to give up my family.”
A groundswell of support is rising up for dads seeking custody, as evidenced by the increasing number of groups like dads rights (dadsrights.org), Custody Warriors, and dadsdivorce.com. “Fathers increasingly want to be more deeply involved with their children”—a desire that doesn't disappear after divorce, says Danny Guspie, executive director of Fathers resources international, a group that advises divorced dads. “When you see some dads have success, it encourages others.”
Thirty years ago, dads never litigated for custody, says Jeffery M. Leving, a Chicago lawyer at the forefront of the fathers' rights movement. “Men didn't place fatherhood at the top of their priorities. Now, if they face a divorce, their children are their main priority, and they will fight to avoid being kicked to the curb.”
Bottom line: dads say they've become better parents, so they deserve a better chance. “They're demanding more fairness,” says Leving, “and sometimes they're getting it.”
Philip Lerman is the author of Dadditude: How a Real Man Became a Real Dad.