Bryan lehl, our June 2019 Advocate of the Month, is the founder and president of IowaFathers. Bryan resides in West Des Moines where he has joint physical care of his six-year-old daughter. He says she is extremely well adjusted and has only known joint physical care. Because of the relationship he has with his daughter, Bryan vows to continue fighting until a rebuttable presumption of equal shared parenting is established as the norm via Iowa statutes.
Bryan was married to Kate Cannon in 2017. He describes her as his rock and true soulmate. She has encouraged his commitment to Shared Parenting as a rebuttable presumption after personally seeing how beneficial it is to children. Kate is also an advocate for changing the perception of step-mothers to be viewed more as a bonus parental figure.
In addition to IowaFathers, Bryan owns Craftguard Metal Finishing Services, LLC in Waterloo, Iowa. He also recently became licensed to sell Life, Health, Property & Casualty insurance in Iowa.
It was Bryan’s bitter custody battle for his oldest daughter in 2001 that prompted him to found IowaFathers in 2003. His organization was instrumental in getting joint physical care legislation passed in 2004. Starting with one member, himself, Bryan’s group has grown to thousands of members statewide.
He has been an unpaid lobbyist in the state of Iowa since 2003. Over the years, his efforts and recognition as a leader in parental equality influenced the choice for an appointment on the Child Support Advisory Committee, which makes direct recommendations to the Iowa Supreme Court.
Bryan’s passion for making sure children have equal access to both parents inspired him to obtain his Master’s Degree in Legal Studies. In 2011, he conducted the first ever child custody study in the State of Iowa. This study remains the only one of its kind ever carried out in Iowa and is often referenced to show inequalities. This study is also cited frequently by supporters of Shared Parenting to demonstrate the need for Family Law Reform.
Bryan has been instrumental in providing support and contributing information to attorneys and members in many appellate cases over the years with favorable outcomes for fathers. This includes but is not limited to the Weichers case where a judge’s refusal to recuse himself for lack of impartiality. This forced the case to be sent back to the trial court where it was heard by a different and impartial judge.
He also influenced the Whiteside case which establishes that the party filing contempt of court cannot be assessed attorney fees of opposing legal counsel because it is the only avenue available to noncustodial parents to seek enforcement of a court order. Those cases are truly just the tip of the iceberg as members of IowaFathers have made great strides in the courtroom.
Bryan has been published many times, his articles appearing in magazines to newspapers to online publications. He is considered an expert in Family Law by many attorneys, media outlets, federal legislators, and state legislators. In fact, Bryan attended a hearing in Washington D.C. to speak on the importance of parental equality with numerous members of Congress. To this day, legislators on both the state and federal level refer constituents to IowaFathers for support and information.
His experience with joint physical care over the past three years with his youngest daughter and her overall well-being and happiness compared to his minimized role of traditional noncustodial parenting of his eldest child spurs him to ensure all children of future divorce or separation are given this opportunity.
Bryan can personally attest that joint physical care is possible and can be obtained when initially opposed by your former spouse. Furthermore, he can testify to the fact communication in a joint physical care arrangement is actually less stressful and more impactful compared to communication in a traditional primary custodial parent relationship.
We commend Bryan for all he does to help with the Family Law Reform battle and congratulate him on being named FUAN June 2019 Advocate of the Month.
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