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Fathers' rights issue in "Housewives" custody case

The American judicial system has come a long way in recognizing the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. Many states have laws that recognize that mothers are not always the better parent simply due to gender, and that they should not have an automatic advantage in child custody cases. However, there is still a lag between the increasingly involved roles that many American fathers play in the lives of their children and the manner in which the courts, including those in Massachusetts, award custody and visitation. A recent celebrity case exemplifies the uphill battle that men still face in regard to fathers' rights.

In the bitter divorce between 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' star Adrienne Maloof and husband Paul Nassif, child custody has become a contentious issue. A judge recently ruled that Nassif's access to his children be restricted to supervised visitation. This decision is the result of a temporary restraining order that Maloof obtained against her estranged husband, claiming that he is abusive toward their three sons.

It is reported that the Department of Children and Family Services determined that there was no abuse. When the safety and welfare of children are concerned, courts in Massachusetts and elsewhere err on the side of caution, and rightfully so. In this case, Maloof has also stated that her husband carries a gun in his briefcase, leading the judge to order that the weapon be turned over to authorities.

In the end, no one except the two halves of this couple will know the full truth. However, for a father who simply wants to spend time with his children, these sorts of obstacles can feel overwhelming. Should Nassif decide to fight for access to the kids, he can re-approach the court and ask for a modified custody order. Once he is able to satisfy the judge that he is not a danger to the boys, he may be able to move forward with unsupervised visits and an eventual custody agreement that is suitable for all involved. However, until it is ultimately decided, this case will serve as a very public reminder of the status of fathers' rights in American society.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Adrienne Maloof Divorce: Paul Nassif Awarded Supervised Visitation," Sept. 27, 2012

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