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Fathers' rights

The Fathers' rights movement is a loose network of groups, primarily in western countries, established to campaign for equitable treatment of fathers and their families following parental separation or divorce. Many in the fathers' rights movement consider that the law grants primary rights over children following divorce to mothers at the expense of fathers, notably except in extreme cases. Given that the family home often is provided to the parent with custody of the children, that often means that fathers lose full access to their children and residence rights in their own home, being reduced to providing financial support for a family from which they are otherwise excluded. Fathers' Rights campaigners further argue that even when given limited parental rights over their children by court judgments, such judgments are rarely enforced where the mother refuses to co-operate, in effect completely cutting off fathers from their children.

Many feminists however dispute the claims. A full analysis of statistics on the issue is made difficult by the in camera rule which prohibits any legal reporting of family law cases.

At the local level, many father's rights groups spend a high proportion of their time providing support for newly separated fathers, some of whom are distraught and even suicidal due to the loss of their children, their family home and their future income. In many cases these groups also campaign for a greater consideration of grandparents and women in second marriages.

The operation of the family court is one area which the father's rights movement considers in need of reform, notably in the area of in camera sittings of the courts in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. Fathers' rights groups consistently note a high rate of suicide amongst fathers who are forcibly separated from their children.

Supporters of the movement, which is particularly strong in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, United States and Australia, include divorced (and subsequently widowed) Live Aid founder, Bob Geldof and Irish writer and journalist John Waters; Waters fought a legal case for access to the daughter he had by Rock star Sinéad O'Connor, and highlighted what he saw as injustices in the treatment of men in his weekly column in The Irish Times. The most prominent Fathers' rights group in Ireland is called A-men.

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