Between 1989 and 2012, the number of stay-at-home fathers nearly doubled, and that number continues to rise today. Fathers are staying at home for three main reasons: 1) they suffer from an illness or disability (35 percent); 2) they have lost their job or are unable to find employment (23 percent); and/or 3) they desire to be the primary caregiver (21 percent).
The last reason is the most interesting, particularly in the family law realm. The number of fathers staying at home to take care of the family has increased fourfold since 1989. In a world where gender roles are changing, so are the way we raise our kids and our family laws.
As with most things, societal opinion lags behind. A survey by Pew Research Center found that while 51 percent of Americans believe children are better off with a stay-at-home mom than a working mom, a mere 8 percent said the same about dads. A similar trend can be found in the courts. In Utah, while our laws are gender-neutral, allowing men to receive alimony and custody, men continue to be more likely than women to have custodial interference, alimony and sole physical custody requests dismissed by the courts.
Protecting Dads Through Legal Advocacy
A stay-at-home father should not have a different experience in court than a stay-at-home mother. If a mom can receive alimony because she does not have recent and sufficient job experience or education to support her family, then a dad should, too. If a mom is more likely to be awarded additional time with the children due to her role as a caregiver, then a father should expect the same.
Yet, judges are people too, which is why having the right legal support is essential. An attorney can help you develop your case in a way that demonstrates your contributions to the family.