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A Husband's Rights in a Divorce

By Mike Broemmel ; Updated June 13, 2017

An immediate consideration of a husband filing or responding to a divorce petition is the nature and extent of his rights. Across the United States, a level of consistency exists regarding a husband's rights in divorce cases. Despite differences in court procedures, a husband's rights are similar from state-to-state.


Up until the 1980s and 1990s, a husband's rights were overshadowed by those of a wife in divorce proceedings, according to the American Bar Association Section of Family Law. Laws on the books across the United States before this time granted a gender preference to women in certain situations, particularly in regard to issues surrounding children born during the marriage. Beginning in the 1980s, one jurisdiction after another adopted the standard of gender neutrality in divorce and related proceedings. Eventually, all states enacted legislation eliminating gender alone as a grounds upon which a court makes decisions in divorce proceedings.


A husband's rights in a divorce proceeding include very basic ones, including a notice regarding hearings and proceedings as well as an opportunity to be heard at these sessions, according to "The Complete Divorce Handbook: A Practical Guide" by Brette McWhorter Sember. A husband seeking a divorce possesses more specific rights, including the ability to seek custody of his children, to obtain a fair share of assets and debts and to seek alimony or spousal support, if the facts of the case warrant such a payment.


Custodial considerations and a husband's rights center on the standard of determining what is in the best interests of the children born during the course of the marriage. Financial considerations depend on where the divorce case pends. In a community property state, a husband is entitled to a 50 percent share of marital property. In a state that uses an equitable division standard--which is most U.S. jurisdictions--grants a husband the right to receive a fair share of property, based on the facts of the case and the circumstances of the parties.


The benefits of rights extended to a husband in divorce proceedings include ensuring that he possesses the chance to make his own case before the court and to respond appropriately to contentions made by a wife during the case.

Expert Assistance

Another right of a husband in a divorce is to seek legal counsel. Although a father can represent himself if he so desires, a divorce case is an emotionally and legally challenging process. A father's rights and interests typically are best protected through an experienced lawyer. The American Bar Association provides resources to aid a party to a divorce case in accessing a capable attorney.

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