By Alesia Vick 

Information presented in this article is for informational purposes only and is not to be considered legal advice.

Some time ago in the 1990s, family law attorneys got wise to the idea that fathers needed “more specialized” representation in the legal system when it came to divorce, child support, and child custody. Thus the idea of father’s rights or dad’s rights attorneys, those who focus on representing fathers, was birthed. So, what happened prior to the 1990s? Were fathers unfairly viewed in the legal system, or were they underrepresented? The answers to those questions largely depend on who you ask.

Society has had an obsession with labels when it comes to fathers. A dad who shirks his fatherly responsibilities is given the title, “deadbeat”, while no real title for a mother who does the same is apparent. Society tends to view single mothers as victims, while single dads are often looked at as a rarity. As hard as we try to paint an image of fairness, societal beliefs are not absent from the justice system. If you are a father facing divorce, child custody, and child support, this is the primary question you need to ask yourself before entering the courtroom, “What is my role in my child’s life? Am I an active part or just a provider?”

Historically dads were viewed as the breadwinner and provider for the family. This type of Leave it to Beaver family system changed greatly as women entered the workplace. Mothers retained the role of nurturer, educator, and moral role model, while taking on careers. Fathers, however, did not change in their role. This role shift has a great deal to do with what fathers experience in the courtroom. If you are just a provider, who has no other active role in your child’s life, the court will still expect you to be a provider. Your financial support, though valuable, is not a substitute for your time. It is much easier to deny a father a role that he has never assumed.

Make fatherhood count. Be an active part of your child’s life. Some great ways to do this are to involve yourself in your child’s daily activities – education, athletic or club involvement, and church or other activities. Take the time to plan important life events like birthday parties, or join the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) or other education related opportunities. It will be much more difficult for a court to ignore the role of an active and positive dad.

Assuming that there are no major negative lapses in moral judgment, physical or substance abuse, or neglect present, an active father stands a great chance of building a case in their favor. Today’s fathers must be more that mere providers.

About the Author:

Alesia-Vick_104917Alesia M. Vick is the lead attorney at the Law Offices of Alesia M. Vick in Knightdale, NC. She is a licensed and practicing attorney in North Carolina. She practices in the area of family law – divorce, separation, child custody, and adoption. Her written article topics include “Female Divorce Attorneys – Are They Better?” and “Dads and Divorce – What Today’s Fathers Need to Know Before Entering the Courtroom”. More about Attorney Alesia M. Vick can be found on her firm website at

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