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Fathers face an unfortunate bias in Nebraska custody cases

Are Nebraska judges biased against fathers? There are a number of advocates for shared parenting that believe that judges in the state rely on outdated educational information and training, which results in a heavy bias that favors mothers in custody battles.

In January, 2013, the Nebraska Administrative Office of the Courts published a study that shows the disparity between the way mothers and fathers are treated in the state's courts when it comes to custody. Nebraska fathers get sole or primary custody in only 13.8 percent of cases. Joint custody is only awarded in 12.3 percent of cases, while mothers get sole custody a whopping 72 percent of the time.

Right now, fathers in Nebraska are typically getting only about four days of visitation a month—despite the fact that research indicates that a noncustodial parent needs at least twice that amount of time with their children in order to have a meaningful relationship.

This means that an entire class of the state's residents—fathers—are being systematically denied the right to parent their children. This issue doesn't just affect fathers, but has a significant influence on the lives of at least 9,000 children each year. Advocates for shared parenting say that children who are deprived of their father's parenting are more likely to develop long-term mental health problems, be suicidal, and struggle educationally, among other negatives.

One of the most important things that you can do if you're a father in Nebraska is aggressively pursue your rights to visitation. Make use of as many different types of communication and contact that you can with your children, both in order to enhance your relationship with them and to show the court that you are determined to maintain your involvement. Telephone calls, email, Skype, social media and texting are all good ways to connect. If you have a child that's into online gaming, participating in a shared gaming platform may be another way to spend quality time interacting.

Beyond making sure that you use as many different avenues for contact and communication as you can in order to stretch out your parenting time, work with your attorney to try to get the courts to extend your parenting time. Patience and persistence are often the key when dealing with custody issues.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, "Supreme Court asked to decide if judges' training documents are public," Lori Pilger, Dec. 08, 2016

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