A New Generation of Fathers is Fighting for Custody — And A Fair Shake In Court from Working Mothers Magazine.

By: Philip Lerman

“Yes, but who’s going to cook them dinner?” When Ben Oshman got that question from a judge hearing his request for custody of his three kids, he was furious. Because whatever new challenges moms have these days, when it comes to custody, things haven’t changed much for dads—especially the gender-based stereotypes that render them the second most important parent.

But now, dads are fighting back, demanding custody where custody’s due. Their motivation is simple: “I wanted to have kids. I wanted to have the family,” says Oshman, who ended up getting joint custody of his three girls. To him, divorce “didn’t mean I should have to give up my family.”

A groundswell of support is rising up for dads seeking custody, as evidenced by the increasing number of groups like dads rights (dadsrights.org), Custody Warriors (custodywarriors.com) and dadsdivorce.com. “Fathers increasingly want to be more deeply involved with their children”—a desire that doesn’t disappear after divorce, says Danny Guspie, executive director of Fathers resources international, a group that advises divorced dads. “When you see some dads have success, it encourages others.”

Thirty years ago, dads never litigated for custody, says Jeffery M. Leving, a Chicago lawyer at the forefront of the fathers’ rights movement. “Men didn’t place fatherhood at the top of their priorities. Now, if they face a divorce, their children are their main priority, and they will fight to avoid being kicked to the curb.”

Bottom line: dads say they’ve become better parents, so they deserve a better chance. “They’re demanding more fairness,” says Leving, “and sometimes they’re getting it.”
 

Philip Lerman is the author of Dadditude: How a Real Man Became a Real Dad.
 

 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.