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Why father-daughter relationships too often suffer during divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | Family Law |

When parents with daughters divorce – particularly if those daughters are nearing or in the teen years – fathers are often led to believe that their daughter is better off with her mother having a greater share of parenting time and responsibilities. Men too often accept this because they just want to do what’s best for their child. They may also be a little nervous about whether they can handle a daughter’s transition into young womanhood.

Mental health and family court professionals have found that father-daughter relationships are more likely to suffer when parents split up than father-son relationships. Further, this damage can follow young women into adulthood and affect how they relate to men as well as how they see themselves.

In general, children of divorce are more likely to report that their relationship with their father has suffered in comparison to their relationship with their mother during and post-split. That’s in large part because children tend to be closer to their mothers. Fathers and sons, however, are typically more likely to repair that relationship eventually than fathers and daughters.

A mother’s behavior can worsen a relationship

The attitude of a mother towards the father of her child(ren) can have a significant effect on how a daughter sees her father. Mothers are more likely to lean on their daughters emotionally and share things that might not be appropriate about their marriage with daughters than with sons. In more extreme cases, they can try to drive a wedge between their daughter and her father. They can tell her all kinds of false things about how her father feels about her and how he behaved during the marriage. There are terms like “parental alienation” and “gatekeeping” to describe actions like this that can permanently damage relationships and ultimately hurt the child more than anyone.

Kentucky law presumes that equally shared parenting is best

Fortunately, at least the law is catching up with the outdated notion that children, regardless of gender, are better off when their mother as their primary caregiver following divorce. Within the last decade, Kentucky has changed its custody law. There’s now a “rebuttable presumption” that “joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in a child’s best interests.” That means it’s assumed that this arrangement is best unless either or both parties provide evidence that a child is better off spending more time with one parent than the other.

If you’re a father who wants to ensure that you get a fair share of parenting rights and responsibilities, it’s a good idea to learn more about what professionals say about the value of equally shared parenting. It’s also important to have experienced legal guidance to protect your rights.