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Fathers' rights fights aren't limited to the family law arena

Gender bias is something that is supposed to be a thing of the past. The ideal has proven to be easier stated than achieved, however. As we noted in a post in December, while the law in Texas regarding child conservatorship takes a purposely neutral position on the issue, courts aren't always as balanced in making final determinations. Mothers often get greater control over physical custody of a child. Fathers often get more of the financial burden.

This apparent imbalance isn't seen only in family law scenarios, however. It's something that seems to be reflected more broadly in society. Take work and home life for example. While experts widely acknowledge that parent-child bonding is as important for fathers as it is for mothers, men tend to be penalized more than women by the workplace if they seek to exercise their rights to equal family leave when a baby enters the picture.

To be clear, this kind of workplace discrimination is against the law. The Family Medical Leave Act says so, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reinforced that view in a historic announcement last year, stating that companies with 50 or more employees are required to grant male and female employees equal bonding leave time.

Under the FMLA provisions, each parent is allowed up to 12 weeks of leave. It might not be paid leave and mothers might be able to get more time than that for recovery after child birth, but both new parents are entitled to the time off, regardless of gender.

And while the EEOC guidance doesn't have the force of law, the commission's interpretation of the FMLA tends to be given significant weight by courts.

What all of this highlights is that the protection of parental rights in family leave cases or custody disputes, and specifically fathers' rights, is not something that can be taken for granted. Sometimes it requires an attorney's help.

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