Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Fathers’ rights at the core of failed bill proposal

What rights do fathers have regarding adoption? How can single dads secure fair visitation schedules? And how do we solve the rights surrounding biological fathers and their extended families? These questions and others have recently been buzzing on the lips of family specialists, fathers’ rights attorneys and lawmakers. As families evolve and form in new ways, the issue of fathers has grown more complex.

Over the weekend, author and fathers’ rights attorney Jeffery Leving tackled some of these issues in a question and answer session devoted to the topic at the 3rd Annual Male Empowerment event held at Malcolm X College in Chicago. Leving, one of the country’s premiere divorce and family attorneys as well as the President Emeritus of the Fatherhood Educational Institute, isn’t alone when it comes to protecting fathers and children. Last week, Idaho attorney Anne Solomon proposed a twelve-page bill that would require biological fathers to be notified in 30 days and an official termination of parental rights before the child could be considered for adoption. Also, the bill contained protection for fathers against deception about the pregnancy as the current law permits a mother to hide a pregnancy from the father without legal ramifications. As a result, many men become fathers without ever knowing.

Solomon’s bill was highly controversial in Idaho and lawmakers from both sides were passionate about the topic. Ultimately, the bill did not pass, although Solomon promised that a new and revised version of the bill would appear again some time in the near future. Questions of religion and upbringing, as well as fathers rights swirl in the Chicago custody case of Joseph and Rebecca Reyes. Joseph converted to Judaism for his now ex-wife in 2004, yet he took his daughter to a Catholic mass against court orders. Joseph agreed to raise his child as Jewish so Rebecca has slapped him with a violation citing that he has damaged and disturbed the child. This messy affair will continue to rage on in courtrooms with questions of faith and parental rights.

Finally, the issue of fathers’ rights went global last week. In the UK, a survey done by the Families Need Fathers campaign showed that most British dads are unsure of what their actual paternal rights are. The campaign also is looking to bring awareness to the rights of single working dads regarding paid time off and schedule flexibility.