For years, the presumption in an Arkansas divorce was that the mother would get custody of the children and the father would provide financial support and see the kids on weekends. Now, of course, this is no longer (officially) the case. Arkansas child custody law is gender neutral, and courts determine placement based on the best interests of the child.

Still, there are plenty of people who believe – wrongly, of course – that men don’t have what it takes to be a single dad. Much of this comes from a presumption than men aren’t “natural caregivers” the same way women are.

In reality though, the “participatory father” is not a modern creation. Research shows that, as far back as the Victorian era, men have played an active role in attending to their children’s growth, development and physical needs. In fact, recent scientific research shows that men are actually happier than women when caring for children.

So what does this mean for divorcing dads?

More than anything, it means that they should not be afraid to assert their fathers’ rights in a child custody proceeding. Fathers should not accept that they must be relegated to the role of a “weekend dad” simply because their marriage is breaking up.

Both parents are important to a child’s life. Fathers have just as much right as mothers do to have primary custody of their children. In many cases, the father is actually a more responsible parent and a more attentive caregiver than the mother.

Being a dad is an important job. If you are a dad going through a divorce, make sure to enlist the help of a divorce attorney who will help you fight for your rights.

Source: Medical Daily, “The Family Man: Modern Fathers Older Than You Think,” Amber Moore, June 14, 2012.