Child custody and modern single fatherhood

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Mothers are traditionally considered to be the primary nurturers and caretakers of their children. Modern parenthood is changing that. Fathers today spend more time tending to childcare, housework and homework than they did a half-century ago. Many family structures are transforming due to the change in parental involvement.

The increasing rate of parental divorce and separation have parents re-envisioning family life and the work of continuing to raise kids together. Now more than ever, fathers are seeking equitable custody arrangements, so that they can be more present in their children’s lives. Even if you’re an active father involved in caretaking and addressing the emotional needs of your children, you may feel like you are facing an uphill battle when it comes to custody issues.

Child custody mediation

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third-party, or mediator, works with parents to facilitate a mutually agreeable custody agreement. Under New Jersey law, cases involving disputed custody issues must first be submitted to mediation.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Parents who negotiate an agreement in mediation can avoid a rigid court-imposed custody order that can lead to an ongoing custody conflict. There are many benefits to choosing mediation over going to court in a custody case. These benefits include:

  • Financial. The length of time involved in mediation can vary widely. However, settlements are usually reached in less time than traditional litigation, making it considerably less expensive than litigating a case.
  • Less stress for parents. Litigation is a confrontational process that can escalate the parental conflict. In contrast, mediation is a collaborative process oriented toward meeting the needs of the whole family. It is designed to help couples set aside hard feelings and make the best of the situation.
  • Less stress for kids. Divorce can be especially hard for kids who feel they are in the middle of their parents’ custody fight. Kids benefit when parents are involved in a less-contentious situation.
  • Follow-through. Parents who reach an agreement through mediation are usually more satisfied with the agreement than one passed down by a family law judge. The result is that they are more likely to follow through with the details of it.

As a father, you play an essential role in your children’s lives. Your children need you for affection, self-esteem, security and wisdom. As you transition into single parenthood, your nurturing presence can have a far-reaching effect on the well-being and identity of your children.

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