Florida Among Best Places for Divorced Dads; Tennessee Among the Worst

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Study: Florida Among Best Places for Divorced Dads, USA Today, Jessica Saggio, Florida Today, June 14, 2018.


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It turns out Florida may be among the best states for dads who want shared custody of their kids after a divorce, a recent study suggests.

Not all states are created equal, according to research from Custody X Change, a software company that specializes in custody scheduling, but if it comes down to a custody battle, it’s location, location, location.

The study states that fathers in Florida are more likely to get 50/50 custody of their children compared to other states. Among the best states for fathers are also: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, which also tend to give fathers 50 percent custody.

The worst states in the country for fathers who want equal time are Tennessee, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Illinois and Georgia. Tennessee was the worst state in the nation, where children spend less than 22 percent of their time with their fathers annually, the study stated.

The study is based upon “judicial standards and a survey of legal professionals about the schedules they most often see” and include only cases where both parents wanted custody and no extenuating circumstances existed, a release from the company states.

“Nationally, a father is likely to receive about 35 percent of child custody time,” it continues.

Local dad Johnny Jenkins, who has sole custody of his children, said he feels he was treated fairly during his divorce in Florida. In his case, even with the mother of his children not heavily involved, the court system still encouraged he stay in contact with his ex-wife for the children.

“The judge in my case did encourage me to make sure I am continuing contact with the mother,” he said. “That aspect bothered me a bit because it was like the judge put it on me to make sure my ex is being a mother, but I have been doing as the judge requested.”

Still, there are many cases where dads do not come out with a fair verdict, said David Henry, who leads the Brevard County Fathers’ Rights Movement.

“I can confidently say fathers are predominately discriminated against in the Family and Dependency (DCF Department of Children and Families/ GAL Guardian ad Litem) Court systems,” said Henry, in an email. ” … Current formulas generate massive financial incentives institutionally, this creates a stereotypical arena were more and more services rely on conflict between parties (winner vs. loser) and intentionally prolonged case resolutions ie the longer the case the more pay outside of the orbit of standard fees.”

Chief Judge John Harris of the 18th judicial circuit, which encompasses Brevard and Seminole counties, said the primary focus should always be “the needs and best interests of the children,” and “that may take many forms.”

He said the system has evolved over time and fathers have become more involved in the custody process. Harris said this could be due to a number of factors, including more resources and support for dads, employers giving fathers more flexible schedules and accessibility to more information in the internet age.

“Judges and General Magistrates are able to provide time-sharing orders that are fair when both parents are fully involved,” he said. ” … The best arrangement is one that both parents have agreed to. That is why we order mediation in all family cases. Parents are in the best position to create a plan that reflects the strengths of each and the needs of the children.”


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