From the time June Cleaver was whipping up brownies in her tidy suburban home, courts almost always awarded custody to the mother after divorce unless it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she was unfit. Men often walked away feeling powerless, and many had very little contact with her children.

Forty years later, that has largely changed. Men in Dallas and across the country are now fighting back in desperation as they try to do away with stereotypes so that they can be an integral part of the lives of their children and be awarded some type of child custody. Recent surveys show a drop in the incidence of mothers winning sole custody of their children and an increase in equal shared custody, as well as mothers being the ones paying child support.

There is still some inequality, and it has to do with the wealthy and those involved in high-asset divorces. Wealthy men are often college-educated and many are involved in professions that put them in the public eye. They have the means to hire the most expensive attorneys and wage long-term legal battles in court. They often wind up paying far less in child support than they should.

The battles aren’t always about money. Take the ongoing cases of Bode Miller and Jason Patric. These men, one an Olympic athlete and the other a famous actor, are exploiting their wealth and their status to fight for the right to be involved and have a say in the lives of their children.

Parents who live modest lives or are simply functioning paycheck to paycheck don’t have the same support that men like Miller and Patric do. The best they can do is to hire an attorney who has the experience to fight for them in court so that they get a fair deal and the outcome that they want.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, “Custody battles pivot on income, not gender” Hanna Rosin, May. 14, 2014