Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mothers Day article on fathers rights

The NY Times Magazine has a good article about Fathers 4 Justice and other advocates of fathers' rights. The British group has gotten a lot of publicity from doing stunts like climbing buildings in Batman costumes.
Hatch's sense of despair about his estrangement from Charlie and Olivia has apparently swept away any concern he might have had about the most basic requirement of parenthood: his continuing good health. When he scaled the ladder at Buckingham Palace, the guards cocked their rifles, a sound captured chillingly on a videotape of the event. ''I'm not afraid to die, but I don't want to,'' Hatch, who now has a 14-month-old daughter with his current girlfriend, Gemma Polson, told me. ''I feel sorry for Amelia, obviously -- Amelia being me little daughter. If anything happens, she's going to lose out, but I still have to do it. I still have to go out there and get the law changed, and when the law's changed, you won't see me again.''
Millions of men will have to show this sort of determination in order for the law to be changed. The article also discusses Michael Newdow, famous as the Pledge of Allegiance atheist:
In short, forget for a moment about tending to a child's optimal well-being: what about what's fair? If a child's parents are still married, courts don't worry about whether it's in the best interest of the child to go frogging late at night -- so why should they have the power to weigh that issue the instant two parents separate? Split the custody 50-50, Newdow proposes, and let each parent make independent decisions during his or her time with that child.

Newdow replied that the judges' rulings are, in fact, arbitrary, often depending on the expert opinion of psychologists to whom he grants zero scientific credibility. He cited textbook cases of judges making absurd decisions based on their own value judgments about what kind of parent would be the better custodian.
He is right. I had a know-nothing gay shrink take my kids away because he thought that there was something unusual about feeding kids oatmeal for breakfast and broccoli as part of dinner. No one would ever pay any attention to any of the complaints against me if it were part of an intact marriage.
Robert Mnookin, director of the Harvard Negotiation Research Project and a professor at Harvard Law School, is the rare expert who concedes that each side has legitimate concerns. A presumption of joint physical custody would have ''some nice symbolic attributes,'' he told me; but he worries about how it would play out in practice. He notes that the parents whose custody negotiations end up going all the way to court tend to be the parents who fight the most. In those cases, he argues, forcing judges to implement joint physical custody is a bad idea for the kids, since it only perpetuates their exposure to the conflict. He contends, however, that if divorced parents know that a judge is disinclined to award joint physical custody in circumstances with a high degree of conflict, it creates an incentive for a parent who wants sole custody to create conflict.
Mnookin is an idiot. The greater the conflict in court, the more reason there is for 50-50 custody. Parents typically have just as many opportunities for conflict in an 80-20 custody deal as with a 50-50 custody deal. The 80-20 custody deal is worse for a high-conflict family because it allows the 80% parent to abuse the situation and use the kids against the other parent.

There is also a online magazine forum with almost 2000 message. This article hit a nerve. There are a lot of angry noncustodial parents out there.

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