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Mothers still get more rights, but joint custody is on the rise

The 21st century has been good to dads in Oklahoma and other states in the sense that there is no longer a strong inclination to award full custody to mothers. While mothers still do get more rights when there is a need to sort out custody matters post-divorce, joint custody is becoming increasingly common. Custody of a child involves two different types of custody: legal and residential or physical custody.

When it comes to child custody, courts now generally start with the intention of favoring joint legal custody as an option. Residential custody that's split equally is less common, however, because of logistical issues, such as proximity to a child's school. For this reason, residential custody still favors mothers. Even so, there has been a noticeable shift since the 1980s towards allowing fathers to have more access to their children. According to one study, mothers were awarded sole custody about 80 percent of the time in 1980. That percentage was cut in half by 2008.

The study also noted a spike in the number of children spending the same number of nights with each parent after a divorce or separation. In the latter part of the 20th century, more states began to allow for no-fault divorces. Also, because women tended to initiate divorces more often during this time period, they were typically favored with custody decisions. However, courts today are recognizing the value of the father's role in child-rearing, and many dads are actively seeking fair custody terms.

It's also becoming more common for a family law attorney to work out custody arrangements for a parent going through a divorce without the need for court intervention. Doing so can make the divorce process less stressful for children. A lawyer may also be able to help iron out issues with visitation schedules and other custody details that sometimes arise between divorcing parents.

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