Eric Legette: From Victim to Advocate for the Rights of Fathers Everywhere
Learn how one man refused to give up his paternal rights, and is now changing the course of custodial cases throughout the country. His mission: to fight for rights of fathers; One father at a time.
No doubt about it: Eric Legette is a man’s man.
Founder of Fathers with Voices, an organization that protects the rights of fathers and provides much-needed resources and emotional support to fathers threatened with losing visitation rights or custody of their children, Legette is just the man for the job.
In 1996, following disputes with his daughter’s mother, Legette was threatened with losing visitation rights to his child, though there were no allegations of abuse.
“I was working full-time and attending college full-time, so it was a stressful time. But my primary concern was to continue a healthy and strong relationship with my daughter. Fortunately Fathers with Voices was already ‘in the works’ because I’d helped a friend in a similar situation, and I was able to succeed in my endeavors.”
It wasn’t easy.
Legette spent thousands of dollars in attorney fees, which only added to his already stressed-filled lifestyle. With the courts seemingly against him, Legette would continue his fight for seven months, eventually gaining visitation rights. In time, he would file for – and gain – full custody of his child.
Triumphant for sure, but the experience left Legette wondering how many other fathers were treated unfairly by the judicial system. No questions about it: the rights of fathers in the U.S. are under attack.
Historically, mothers are deemed more worthy of rearing children; it’s not just a cultural thing – it’s a gender thing. In every society, the mother is expected to raise the children while the father supports the household. Even today, while women are increasing in the workplace, the primary responsibility of child-rearing generally falls on the mother.
Society expects it. And in most cases the U.S. court system is no different. This line of thinking impedes the rights of fathers as custodial parents.
For many devoted fathers the trend can be down-heartening. With endless promises of gaining rights to their children, many are devoured by time-constraints and attorney fees (the time-constraints often come as a result of working overtime to keep up with attorney fees), and being taken advantage of by lawyers who are only looking for a quick buck.
It’s an endless cycle with often disastrous results.
“I can’t tell you how many fathers have contacted me about the amount of money they’ve spent – and the lack of services they feel they’re getting,” Legette says. “It’s costly to keep up, yet they feel they have no other option.
“Fathers with Voices fights for the rights of fathers, in part, by empowering fathers with the resources needed to [often] conduct their own legwork and provide other necessary information and support that neither the legal system nor most child agencies provide. We have much the same – if not more – information on the topic of fathers’ [child custody] rights than do costly attorneys.”
Legette’s methodology is part of a compilation of materials and resources he’s collected and practiced over the past 13 years.
A published author of the book, Closing the Curtain on Baby Mama Drama, Legette explores the rights of fathers in this country, and is developing a second publication due within the next year.
“I’m now in the process of developing a curriculum that will cover topics such as: coping mechanisms; from full-time father to part-time dad; how to develop a healthy relationship with the new man in your child’s life; and many other topics that are pertinent to the healthy growth of our children.”
Fathers with Voices operates through a membership-based system of just $20 per month for one full year – much less than the cost of a nicotine habit.
Says Legette: “We offer a year-long program because our cases have proven successful in less than a year – far less than time-consuming court cases that often drag on for years – and our rates are suitable for fathers of all salary ranges, something we’re most proud of.”
With a motto that could very well read, “Been there, done that,” Fathers with Voices founder Eric Legette is definitely one for the books. He’s a man’s man for sure.
A man you’d want on your side.
Brown is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.