Fathers' Rights Groups in the U.S.

Family court attempts to make decisions on what's best for the child. However, there are times when even the best judge falls vulnerable to stereotyped thinking. In 19602000, it was generally easier for mothers to gain full custody of their children because of the outdated belief that mothers were more nurturing. This was due to “the tender years doctrine" which presumes that children 4 years old and younger are "tender" and thus must be with their mother.

Similarly, people used to think that most men weren't interested in active parenting. Many fathers want to actively be involved in their children's lives—they want to help them learn survival and life skills, encourage them, build their self-esteem, teach them responsibility, and help them be a team player.

Fathers today still need support when experiencing divorce and child custody proceedings. Luckily, there are several organizations around the country that focus on supporting and maintaining fathers' rights, both in family courts and through legislative action. Fathers' rights organizations help educate fathers on their rights and action plans for shared custody. Additionally, father-involved custody encourages men to create strong relationships with their kids.

Father and son playing airplane game
Photo © Christopher Futcher/Getty Images

The American Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC) is a non-profit organization in support of shared parenting. The ACFC works closely with pro-family and civil liberties groups throughout the country in an effort to promote equal rights for both parents in family courts throughout the U.S.

They also work to help shape family law legislation and raise public awareness around the issue of children needing both parents. The efforts of organizations like this are useful in the fight for equal rights for both men and women. Removing traditional parental stereotypes will help both parents achieve a fair settlement and access to their children.

The ACFC challenges the current American family law and policy system. Its tagline, "Kids need fathers—not visitors," lends itself to its mission of family law reform for the interest of children and society. According to the organization, most fathers separated from their children want to be with them. Since 1996, the ACFC has helped promote equal rights for all parties affected by divorce.

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Father and son playing in the kitchen
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The Children's Rights Council (CRC) is a non-profit organization founded in 1985. The CRC is a strong advocate for the active involvement of both parents in raising a child. They’re so dedicated to this idea that their tagline is "The Best Parent is Both Parents®." In pursuit of social and legal justice, CRC serves to protect the best interest of children in custody cases. They strive to facilitate regular interactions between non-custodial parents and their children and also advocate for child custody reform.

The organization has chapters in every state in the U.S. as well as international chapters to support parents living abroad, either with or without their children. For instance, the Children's Rights Council of Maryland offers services related to:

  • Access and transfer centers
  • Monitored exchange and supervised parenting time (visitation)
  • Pre and post service facilitation
  • Parental and family education
  • Domestic education and training for parents and guardians
  • Family counseling, consultation, and mediation
  • Foster care access services and supervised parenting time (visitation)
  • Parent/child and/or sibling visits for children in different homes

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Father playing with twin daughters in park
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Originally called the "Fathers and Families," the National Parents' Organization (NPO) is a non-profit group that advocates for a child's right to love and be cared for by both parents. The organization encourages shared parenting and works to protect equal rights, as well as equal responsibilities, for both parents. Organizations that focus on equal care for both parents may not seem to be focused on the rights of the father, however, by striving for equality they ensure that mothers and fathers have the same rights. 

NPO has affiliates in many states to provide volunteer opportunities and resources in support of their family court reform mission. You can start your own affiliate organization or join a current one, currently available in the following states:

  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

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Father and son using digital tablet
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Dad's Divorce is dedicated to educating fathers on the issues of divorce, child custody, and child support. The website provides great tools, like a child support calculator, spousal support, and legal advice.

Fathers looking for information and a support network about divorce and child custody can explore the Dad's Divorce free and regular podcast with Attorney Joseph Cordell. There is also a forum that connects fathers in similar situations. Additional resources provided include:

  • Divorce guides which help dads with the divorce process and financial aspects men often face.
  • An attorney directory for men to find divorce and child custody attorneys in their state.
  • Popular sub-forums involving tips from other men who have also experienced divorce before. Subjects include parenting, technology, miscellaneous topics, and more.
  • Ebooks like "Divorce Full Force: The Guide for Guys" and "Your Civil War: A Father's Guide to Winning Child Custody."

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Dads America, also known as Dads Against Discrimination (DADS) empowers fathers to take charge of their families through father custody options. With the tagline, "Fathers Are Families' Best Bet," the national organization advocates for fathers' rights in legislative and executive entities throughout the United States. The organization has at least 17 offices nationwide where you can get information about your rights as a father, how to deal with joint custody problems as a parent, and more.

There is also an online resource page regarding additional organizations in the U.S. like The Fatherhood Coalition in MA and National Congress for Fathers and Children. Fathers can also find information on domestic violence and false allegations against men, select attorneys, publications, and online support.

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The Fathers' Rights Movement is a collective of passionate members who empower fathers to stand up for their rights and educate the public and family court system about the importance of fathers in society. They have many chapters throughout the United States, U.S. territories, Canada, and internationally which coordinate with location-specific social media pages.

Get information on upcoming rallies, volunteer opportunities, and news. There are also resources like books, state documents and forms, and child support advice. For example, their fact sheet says that children who have equal and meaningful contact with two fit parents:

  • Are LESS likely to drop out of school
  • Are LESS likely to run away from home
  • Are LESS likely to become pregnant or have an abortion
  • Are LESS likely to commit suicide
  • Are LESS likely to seek, or create an abusive relationship
  • Are LESS likely to commit crimes
  • Are LESS likely to turn to drugs or alcohol

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The Fathers' Rights Network supports the idea that every child has two parents they need access to. This free resource provides information on men and family issues, government news, alimony and support, and more. There is even a section dedicated to contacting a congressional office with directions on how to write to legislators and get active in the community.

Fathers looking for parenting support can use the network to understand the importance of fathers in regard to their child's development:

"There's an awful lot of cultural belief that fathers are second-class citizens," said Joe Kelly, who founded the national advocacy nonprofit Dads and Daughters. "We're not more important than moms, or less. We're different."

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Fathers 4 Kids, also known as Fathers For Equal Rights (FER) is a national resource for fathers in support of equal rights. There are office services, online courses, and additional benefits for members. Fathers can learn how to establish paternity, determine visitation rights, and represent themselves in court.

FER provides information on a child's right to have quality access to both of their parents and provides low-cost documentation preparation, reduced cost DNA testing, free notary services, and additional benefits to individual and family members.

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