Arkansas family law has evolved considerably over the years. If called on to determine custody in a divorce, judges were expected to follow the “Tender Years” doctrine. It assumed it was best for children’s primary caregiver to be their mother while they were young.
Now it’s easier for Arkansas fathers to be equal co-parents with mothers. A 2021 change in the law makes joint custody the norm unless there’s a reason why it wouldn’t be in a child’s best interests.
However, if you’re the father of a daughter, you may still run up against the belief it’s better for mothers to have primary custody of daughters. You may even share that belief – even though giving a greater share of custody to your wife would mean seeing less of your daughter and not being as involved in her life.
Research has found that girls whose parents divorce tend to suffer more negative long-term effects than boys do. Their relationships with their fathers also tend to suffer more than boys’ relationships with their fathers. Both factors, however, can be an outgrowth of fathers and daughters spending little time together following divorce.
The importance of a good male role model
Mental health professionals have found that having a father who’s a positive role model can affect their sense of self-esteem as well as how they expect to be treated by men. Having a close relationship with a father who models respect for females of all ages can help their romantic, professional and platonic relationships with men. It helps when both parents can continue to be amicable and respectful to one another throughout and following the divorce.
Studies of adult children of divorce of both genders show that they tend to be better adjusted when their parents shared custody of them following the breakup. Not only does that allow children to spend quality time with both parents, but it helps them see that you can work together with someone you may have disagreements with and even possibly dislike toward a mutual goal (in this case, raising a child).
Don’t let other people tell you that you don’t have a right to an equal share of parenting time and rights because of your gender and/or your child’s gender. With experienced legal guidance, you can work to successfully seek the custody agreement you and your child deserve.