Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movement to balance custody laws gains steam

Many years ago, it was widely accepted (and one could say expected) that when a couple was married, it was the man who went to work and "brought home the bacon" while the woman stayed at home and took care of the kids and the house. This simple (if not demeaning) approach to marriage caused issues when divorce entered the equation. How would the woman financially provide for herself? How would the man be able to take care of their kids?

Obviously times have dramatically changed since then, and gender roles are constantly converging and colliding in today's world. This is a tremendous development, as we strive for gender equality and the overall improvement of people, in general. This still leaves open the possibility of stay-at-home moms (or dads) -- but the expectation is no longer there.

However, what this does mean is that father's rights have become a major topic in the world of family law. Studies increasingly show that children of divorce benefit from seeing both of their parents. Having a relationship with each (instead of sole custody going to one parent) usually helps them. And yet, many courts simply assign custody (in cases where joint custody can't be agreed) to the mother, possibly as a byproduct of the stigmas attached to marriage from those marriages many years ago.
In recent years, some father's rights movements have pushed for child custody equality. This doesn't mean that every child custody case should end with joint custody. Certain divorces have special circumstances where sole custody being granted to one parent makes more sense. But, in general, more joint custody agreements could help both the divorced parents and their child.

Source: NPR, "Push To Change Custody Laws: What's Best For Kids?," Jennifer Ludden, Feb. 26, 2014