Advocates for father’s rights pushing for joint custody bill
Virginia advocates for father's rights are disappointed in the change of wording in a bill that would have given father's more of an opportunity to have joint child custody. Father's have faced significant challenges to protect or gain custody rights and many advocates were hoping that House Bill 84 would have given them a needed boost.
The original legislation stated, "in which custody or visitation is at issue, there shall be a rebuttable assumption that it is in the best interests of the child that the parents be awarded joint physical custody and that no parent's share of physical custody shall be for a period of less than two-fifths of the child's time." This was strongly supported by father's who feel that it is hard to be a father on an every other weekend schedule.
According to the support group Fathers for Virginia, the language of the bill changed dramatically as it made its way through the legislative process. The current bill being presented omits any mention of the presumption of joint custody and states that judges must communicate the reasoning for their decisions on custody or visitation to all parties involved, which judges currently do now. Supporters of this group feel that nothing has changed.
Current Virginia law does not favor one parent or another in custody cases but courts overwhelmingly favor mothers over fathers on custody issues. A study conducted by the Virginia Department of Child Support Enforcement, found that only 6 percent of custodial parents were male.
Advocates say that they will keep fighting for father's rights with a push for a joint custody bill and will work hard to bring this before the 2013 General Assembly.
Source: Rappnews.com, "Dads disappointed by child custody changes," Brad Fulton, Mar. 3, 2012