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California readers may be interested in a fathers' rights debate that is going on in one state where legislation is pending that proposes reforms more favorable to dads. There, when a child is born out of wedlock, a father may soon find that his rights to child custody has increased. This would occur if a new law being proposed is actually enacted into law.

Under a proposed law currently being considered by the Arizona legislature, unwed fathers could have more rights to child custody than they currently do under today's law. As it stands now, if a couple is not married, the mother is the primary custodian of a child.

Under the proposal being considered, if a father's name is on the birth certificate of a child, he will be entitled to equal custodial rights to that of the mother. This could allow fathers better access to their children in cases where the mother has denied visitation. Proponents suggest that it is a fair proposal because fathers have equal obligations to their children and thus should have equal rights.

Some are concerned that the proposal, if passed as it is now written, will have unintended consequences. Those could include allowing fathers who have had little contact with their children to re-enter their lives, even if it's not in the child's best interests.

As with many child custody issues, this bill will continue to be debated and possibly altered as it makes its way through the legislature. Some expect major changes that would address concerns voiced by some school officials. Nevertheless, action is expected on the bill during the current legislative session.

It is not clear from reports how many states treat this issue in the same manner, but fathers' rights is a relevant and important topic for many people. The issue seems to underscore a growing perception of fathers' rights issues, even in cases where the parents were never married. Many California residents may be watching the new law as it goes through the political process. It will be interesting to see if other states follow suit.

Source: The Arizona Republic, "Senator: Expand fathers' custody," Alia Beard Rau, March 8, 2012

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