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Research on Why Fathers Matter


With Father’s Day just behind us, it is appropriate to reflect and understand just how important fathers are to the lives of young children. In their article entitled, “The Importance of Fathers (According to Science),” Brett and Kate McKay review several studies concerning a father’s role in their children’s upbringing, and the  significant impact that father’s can have in their children’s lives. Some of the studies included in the article conclude the following:

  • Children With Fathers are Less likely to Live in Poverty;
  • Children With Fathers do Better in School;
  • Children Without Fathers are More Likely to do Jail Time;
  • Children With Fathers are less likely to Abuse Drugs and Alcohol;
  • Children Without Fathers are More Likely to be Sexually Active as Teenagers;
  • Children Without Fathers are More Likely to be Obese;
  • Children With Fathers get More Roughhousing (and roughhousing makes kids awesome);
  •  Children with Fathers are More Likely to Have a Larger Vocabulary;
  • Children with Fathers are More Likely to be Encouraged to Take Healthy Risks; and,
  •  Children with Fathers may Gain Additional Benefits to Health and Happiness.


See the full article here.

Of course, not all fathers are perfect, and not all fathers take an active role in their children’s upbringing. Believe me, as an attorney practicing Family Law for almost 10 years, I have seen my share of absentee and even abusive fathers who probably do more harm than good; and keeping children away from an abusive father (and mother) is desirable.

In this regard, when it comes to child custody and visitation, California Family Law Courts are charged with, among other things, determining a child’s best interests, and Family Code section 3010(a) specifically states, “The mother of an unemancipated minor child and the father, if presumed to be the father under section 7611, are equally entitled to the custody of the child.” Unfortunately in high conflict cases, and for a variety of reasons (evidentiary issues, parental alienation, false allegations, etc), the courts do not always reach the right result, ultimately to the detriment of the child.  Lets face it, given the volume of cases that Family Court judges hear on a day-to-day basis, and given that family law courts must operate under the California Rules of Evidence, courts are simply not equipped to reach such decisions.

As such, if you are considering or going through a divorce, you and your divorcing spouse should think long and hard about the appropriate custodial arrangement, and to the extent possible, try to resolve this aspect of your case outside of Court. Moreover, unless a parent is abusive or simply doesn’t care about the health, education and welfare of their children, the goal should be to have the children exposed to both parents as equally as possible, and responsible parents are much better equipped to decide this as opposed to a stranger in a black robe. In the long run, according to science, your children will have a better chance to succeed.