1997 USA WEEKEND

------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- Quick Poll Results May 30-June 5, 1997 The custody battle A growing chorus of discontented dads -- typically divorced -- feel that courts, agencies and society in general are biased against them when it comes to child custody, visitation and child support. We asked: "In custody battles where both parents are fit, what is better for the child?" Should the mother get custody? The father? Or, should they share joint custody? Here are the stats from our voting visitors: 8% think it's better for the child if the mother gets custody.19% think it's better for the child if the father gets custody. 72% think it's better for the child if there's joint custody. (1020 readers weighed in with their opinion on this topic.) Interest in fathers' rights has been rising, along with the U.S. divorce rate for a couple of decades. Today's fathers' rights movement boasts more visibility and recruits more than ever, boosted by rising concern that so many Americans grew up fatherless. Women's groups see it differently. They claim mothers generally are granted custody, not because of bias, but because they are more often the primary caretaker in a child's life before the divorce. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Comments about this poll The comments, below, were left by visitors when asked about the topic of fathers' rights. Be sure and check out the column from our June 1 issue by Tom McNichol, "Fathers wrestle for their rights." We welcome your postings, but we remind you that your participation is subject to our Terms of Service. We encourage courteous debate that observes the widely recognized online protocol. Tell us what you think about the rights currently afforded fathers in custody battles:

San Francisco (San Francisco) Both parents should participate in rearing the kids.

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Paul Kinzelman (San Jose, CA) What rights? How can I comment on what doesn't exist?

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Chris (New York) My question is this. Didn't father's have rights before the divorce, such as how the children are reared, what money is spent on, discipline. Why are all these rights taken away? I guess I can only speak from experience because this is how my situation is. I have no rights. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

WILLIAM (CHATTANOOGA, TN) EACH CASE SHOULD BE JUDGED ON ITS' OWN MERIT. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT AND PRESUMPTIOUS TO THINK THAT WE CAN MAKE GENERALIZATIONS IN MATTERS SUCH AS THESE WITHOUT BEING PRIVY TO THE SPECIFICS OF EACH INDIVIDUAL SITUATION. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Jalma Guevara (New York) If the child is old enough to choose (14 years old and older) then they should choose what is best for them. If the child is not in school it should be a joint custody. If the child is in school then the parent with the more flexible job schedule should have custody. Many mothers take advantage of child support and stop working and that should not be allowed. Child support is for the child not the mother. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Eddie Mikell (Charlottesville, VA) While I believed at one time that joint custody was best, in reality, with the way the courts are now, it doesn't work. It is best for the father to have custody. Divorced parents should realize that the child didn't ask for this setup - the parents placed them in it. The parents should strive to allow the child to have a child/parent relationship with both sides, freedom to visit both parents, and for both parents to be able to decide on issues concerning the child. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Kevin (Cincinnati) It is outrageous the way the system is currently. The mother alleges sexual abuse and gets temporary custody which supports her overall custody case regardless of the outcome of her allegations. Men are better parents than women in some areas as the same holds true for women. We need a more equitable approach to custody than having the mother automatically having the edge in a custody dispute just because of her sex. Good fathers have been cheated too many times in our current system based on antiquated 19th century thinking. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Bill Glassmire (Philadelphia, PA) All issues regarding custody support are fueled by who has custody of the children. Millions of dollars are spent (wasted) each year in these domestic wars. Joint custody removes the children from these battles and the result would be less to battle over. The children are the tools (or victoms) in the efforts to win the personal and financial goals of the parents. Joint custody eliminates the need for these wars. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

A Friend (Feministville, U.S.A.) Mother custody will send us back to the Stone Age. Read history. Joint custody in modern day America is mother custody. Look at the statistics. Therefore, Father custody is the only answer. Gook luck, civilization. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Jim Mountford (Alameda, Ca) We need to have universal laws in regard to custody. It has boiled down to MONEY and CONTROL as being the primary motivators in custody battles, the whole family, father, mother and child needs to be addressed equally. Untill total Family rights start being the norm instead of the exception then these problems will continue. In short, being a father in a similar situation I have found I have few rights, in order to excersize them it costs me a bundle. In order for my ex to get increases in child support it is as easy as filling out a form. While she enjoys the backing of local, state and federal government I have little if any access. It takes far more than money to raise a child, sadly the courts, laws, district attorneys and lawyers don't see it that way. This is not only anti father but anti child and family as well. It comes down to the ole mighty buck. This society should be better than that. JM ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Patrick Jackson (Brentwood, Calif) Both parents should have custody. Once a child/children reaches that pre-adult age(puberty). They should spend the majority of time with the parent of the same gender to insure proper developement. Teenage boys should not be raised by women when a father takes an active role in his son/sons life. It takes a strong man to teach by example a young man on responsibility. Only a Mother can teach a daughter on how to be a women. We have alot of social ills in this country. Young women seeking comfort and security being told "I love you", an becoming pregrant by irresponsible young men. Young men looking for the easy way out, instead of confronting any given situation. Hopefully, all will see this is the only way to help resolve the problems with parents not being together. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Steve Bigos (R.I.) Joint? Is that what they were smoking when they came up with this farce? Unlike the president, they surely must have inhaled! What kind of system allows mud slinging like polititions between moms and dads to determin what is right for children? A mom claims "fear of" and is not only issued protection but succeeds in turning dad into an instant crimminal(in most cases without proof), thus making dad a poor risk for custody.(www.tiac.net/users/sbasile/CPF/)Coalition for the Preservation of Fatherhood ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Carol A. Dussault ( R.I.) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Mary Lou Burnsville, M.N. (Elmira, N.Y.) Great comment from Tina in Bel Air, M.D.a child should not be shuffled from house to house, school to school, the parent should go back and forth. The parents should remine calm with each other and remember the child/children should come first. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Mary Lou Burnsville, M.N. (Elmira, N.Y.) Great comment from Tina in Bel Air, M.D.a child should not be shuffled from house to house, school to school, the parent should go back and forth. The parents should remine calm with each other and remember the child/children should come first. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Martin (Irvine, Ca) Look at http://www.primenet.com/~rhal/foam.html and you'll see why I voted for father custody. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Diane Schwartz (Overton, Nv.) I think that it is very important for boys to have there father in there lives. I think that if they do, they are more apt to stay in the lives of their own children. It is also very important for a young girl to have her father around because then she has a father figure, and she is less apt to fall for the first boy that comes along. Girls who's fathers are there for them, seem more secure with men, and know how to stand up for theirselves. I was fortunate to have my father in my life. (my parents are not divorced) I know people who haven't and I see a big difference in their lives. I also think it is extremely important to have a mother around for the same reasons and because a mother nurtures in a way that a father can't (not to say that they can't), it is just different. People in the world need both influences in their lives! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Eric Simpson (Rochester, NY) The Mom from Princeton had a pretty good read on things for the most part. A stable residence, open access for the non-residential parent, and shared decision making by both, would be ideal. The problem might be in mandating that kind of relationship through the courts. Ultimately, in addition to being parents, Mom and Dad also need to be adults, who put their children's needs at the center of any discussion of custody. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Mark Andrew Seifert (Ruesslsheim,Germany) A child or the children do have got the right to have a father and a mother.Both should have custody for the sake of their child or children.I stongly believe that only a child or children with both parents will have a happy childhood. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Mark Kelley (San Diego) Those of us that were raised since 1960 have a different viewpoint about the role of fathers, mothers and gender equality than the preceding generation. We were raised believing that men and women should be equals on the job and off. What many of us (myself included) have discovered is that the many women's groups, such as NOW, seem to view fathers as the enemy of children - they even say as much in their web page. Before I was divorced I assumed that the "joint custody" view would be supported by all groups. I've been dissapointed to learn otherwise. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

H. Fischer (Alexandria, VA) Without taking an extreme feminist point of view, it is important to remember that men, for so many generations, have taken a sedentary role in the rearing of their children. The courts, therefore, have relied quite comfortably on the premise that the child(ren) belong with their mother. Now that fatherhood, as a whole, has taken a new direction, our slow-changing court system needs to adjust. In brief, it would seem that the courts' intentions were good and have always had the child(ren)'s best interests at heart, but now must adapt to a generation of fathers who, unlike their own fathers, as a whole, are passionate about participating in their child(ren)'s lives. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

R. Mead (Lynchburg, VA) I am a single father and custodial parent of a five year old. I feel that too often it is automatically assumed that it is better for the child to reside with his or her mother. The importance of a child's relationship with their father is often either downplayed or overlooked altoghether. It is important for a child to have a strong relationship with both parents. Unfortunately, most judges (and society in general) view it as an either/or situation. A father, if he has demonstrated that he is fit, should not have to forfeit his chance to positively influence his child's life on a regular basis. Also, I feel that sometimes a child is given over to their mother, even if her fitness to be a parent is in question, simply because it is felt that a mother's care is better or more important than a father's. I am fortunate that my situation is different. My case was tried before a judge who took all pertinent information into consideration and made a fair ruling. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Tina Quarles (Fort Washington, Md) I know with my own experience my father chose not to be a part of my life. It is very important to have joint custody. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Richard Halavais (Big Bear Lake, California) Judges award mother custody over 90% of the time because they are in psycho-sexual competition with men who enter their courtrooms and they are trying to impress the women, strutting to prove they are great protectors. Some of them, perhaps, don't even recognize this and just act on biology. If the judge happens to be a woman it's obvious that within a group that goes to the bathroom together custody of children will stay within that group if she has any say about it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Lynn (New England) My mother had custody of us initially and kept our father from us. In the current system, it is not the "best interest of the child" it is the politically correct decision by the courts. The child is the one who loses most. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

F.A.C.T. (Toronto, Ontario) Fathers have basically no rights. Who gets the children is based on which parent is the most unreasonable. Hopefully we can change this Visit our website at www.cyberenet.net/~coop/ ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Jon Langejans (Virginia Beach, Va) I think the first problem is the "NO FAULT" divorce. If not for that, there would be less "disposable" marriages. My state is ridiculous when it comes to child support awarding. Due to this fact, when women get bored, the want a "NO FAULT" divorce which almost always means Mom gets custody and a very nice support check which she does not have to account for in any way. Hey it's like winning the lottery! Monthly income but it's tax free. Father's have a very important role in the upbringing of children. Society has just forgotten. Increased crime and school dropouts should be an indication of this problem. Just look and see how many offenders are Fatherless. If divorce can not be avoided, Joint IS in the "BEST INTEREST" of the child(ren). ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Tammy (Atlanta) I have two adorable children. My husband and I share a wonderful marriage and share caretaking responsibilities for our children. God forbid anything should happen to my marriage but if it did, I would, as I'm sure he would, insist on joint custody. My children love my husband as much as they love me. We are both fit and nuturing parents. We give love equally to our children now - why shouldn't our children receive that same nuturing feeling after the marraige has ended. If both parents are fit then responsbility should be joint. The child(ren)'s feelings should always be taken into consideration. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Brigham Young (Salt Lake City, Utah) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Clif Dalman (Beeville, TX) Joint is best, but the children under 8 should be with their mother more. Once they hit 9, give boys to the dads and girls to the moms, while allowing visitation with the other. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Paul Swearingen (Galion, OH) I know the details of Daniel's case and I used to work with him at Apple Computer. I know how loving he is how wonderful of a father he is and know how unfairly he was treated with the courts. His child was literally stolen and he had no recourse. Something needs to be done to allow judges to act more appropriately in these kind of cases. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

R. Larry Thomas Sr. (Palm Bay, Florida) I that if both parents are responsible adults the custody of child should be based on the sex of child (example: mom-daughter, father-son). The reason for such a belief is because a father can perhaps better assist as a male role model for his son, just as a mother could be a good female role for a daughter. I do believe that there is a bond between children opposite the sex of the parent however, there are some aspects of a child's life experiences that may create a sociofugal facilitation for comfortable discussion. Also, I think that if the father is responsible, he should be able to receive custody of his child. The whole argument that women are better nurturers than men is ridiulous. The role of fatherhood is highly underestimated. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

GAVIN BRITTAIN (VA BEACH,VA) MY PARENTS DIVORCED WHEN I WAS STILL AT A YOUNG AGE AND THE BEST ANSWER IS NOT TO DIVORCE AT ALL. YET HUMAN NATURE BEING AS IT IS IF A DIVORCE MUST HAPPEN THE WELLNESS OF THE CHILD SHOULD BE PARAMOUNT. JOINT CUSTODY , DONE FAIRLY AND FREE OF ANIMOUSITY BETWEEN THE PARENTS,IS THE BETTER OPTION. HOWEVER IF JOINT CUSTODY IS NOT FEASIBLE, THEN THE BETTER SUITED PARENT SHOULD RECEIVE THE PRIMARY CUSTODY, REGARDLESS OF BEING THE FATHER OR MOTHER. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO RAISES THE CHILD,SOMETHING WILL BE FOREVER MISSING. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Ryan Buckner (St. Louis) I think that the father should raise the child. You never know, the father could actually do a better job than the mother. Personally, I think that fathers are dominant!!!!!!!!!!!!! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

TINA PINCKNEY (BEL AIR, MD) Personally, the children should get joint custody but instead of the CHILD/CHILDREN being shuffled from house to house, neighborhood to neighborhood, the PARENTS should be the ones to get shuffled. Leave the children in their home and make the parents (who are supposedly more wiser) go back and forth. Most of the time the children don't want the parents to separate so why should they be the ones to burden most of the problems on their shoulders; e.g. adjusting to new living arrangements, new schools, new friends, etc. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Gavin (San Diego, Ca) Men AND women should take marriage and child-rearing more seriously than is generally the case now. In that event, the divorce rate would lower itself, there would be more love in homes, and custody would be a moot issue. A child needs the influence of both a mother and a father, that live together in marriage. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Dan MacDonald (Bloomington, MN) Fathers have no rights in custody battles today. Mom gets the children, the house, and the money - believe me I have been there! It's terrible on the children. Realize that 92% of all prison inmates are from fatherless homes, 94% of convicted violent criminals are from fatherless homes, 78% of pregnant teens are from fatherless homes - and the list goes on-and-on... The practice of handing everything over to mom and excluding dad is a dismal failure. Joint custody is the answer - the only acceptable answer for the children. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Cyrus Powers (Anchorage, AK) Because of my mother's substance abuse, the doctors thought that I was mental retarded, all that was wrong with me was that I was receiving the substances through nursing from my mother, the very person that was suppose to be protecting me. Thank god for my fathers not believing the doctor, today I'm totally normal after my father receiving custody of me. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Jim Coleman (Port Orchard, Wash.) Fathers. Joint custody can be too unsettling on a child, and introduces all types of political games and power plays. Fathers typically have a better grasp of "the big picture," and, generally, are far more honest with themselves and with their loved ones. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Jose Aguirre (Tacoma Wa) The question of who should recieve custody of a child is a difficult one. In my opinion with the hign crime rate the higer rate of working mothers and the amount of time children have on there hands all things should be considered. a good example is my self my wife is an excellent mother yet she has a carrier that takes her away from the home a tranfere to night shift in order to have more time to do the things needed to provide a good enviorment for my 11 year old son from getting him ready for school to doing homework and after school activites. -------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rudy Bakker, Sr. (Howell, New Jersey) As a father who has a son from a former marriage, and having no contact, I feel the courts in its attempt to do what they perceive as right for the child actually does them more harm than good. Thje women's rights movement started in the sixties. This meant they had a head start in swaying public opinion against fathers. Their ability to lobby is far greater, and their values are selfishlessly focus towards women. If both thw Women's & Men's movements got together and really addressed the problems associated with custody & child support, alot more good can be accomplished, and the politicing & laying of blame will stop I truly feel like a pocketbook. Thank god my children, and wife from my current marriage of 14 years appreciate, and love me... Rudy Bakker, Sr. Howell, New Jersey ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Carole McCluskey (Seattle, WA) I think the high percentage that say a father should get custody is due to the largely male sector of the internet/Web population. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Rey Tamayo (Orange Park, FL) Fathers can love their child and care for them just as much as their mother. Since traditional woman/man roles have virtually disappeared; in today's society neither parent is more prepared than the other to care for their children. Fathers that want to take on the responsibility can do just as good a job with the child as the mother. Joint custody I feel would be very traumatic for the child as getting used to two different worlds in a year's time can be disorienting. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

a mom (Princeton) Joint is the healthiest situation for all. That is if it not physical custody. There are exceptions but for most children it is best to have one main household. Fathers generally seem to be more interested in their own needs first and then the childrens second. It isn't because of lack of love, I think it is perhaps learned behavior. As a result the children should live mainly with Mom, who is usually more nurturing and know more about the childrens day to day life, but should have open access/visition with Dad. Big decisions, school and health concerns etc. should be shared. It is difficult to put differences aside to do this but it is best for all in the end. WHen step parents come into play, it will be an easier transition because the more people to love and support the children, the healthier their lives. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Lowell Sargent (Pittsburg, Penn.) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Charlene Morris (Oriental, NC) THE main consideration is the childrens' welfare--NOT womens' nor mens' rights or *turf/property*. Parents could do the best by their children to keep adult fights to themselves and provide as secure and stable a homelife as possible for the kids. A basic credo borrowed from the airlines: keep YOUR baggage under the seat, in the overhead compartment or check it at the gate. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

A concerned father (any town USA) When mothers get custody they usually use the child as a pawn to get something they want for themselves be it money, cars or something else that is materialistic. When fathers get custody they usually get it for the best interest of the child. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

A concerned father (any town USA) When mothers get custody they usually use the child as a pawn to get something they want for themselves be it money, cars or something else that is materialistic. When fathers get custody they usually get it for the best interest of the child. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Mary W. R. (Southeast Missouri) Children need all the good, wholesome love they can get. Parents are primarily responsible for providing that. Giving love isn't divided by gender. All things being equal, both parents should spend as much time and love on their kids as possible. When you have children, you CHOOSE to give them what they need, whatever the sacrifice. This has nothing to do with the "Mother-nuture, Father-pay" idea. All people have the capacity to love. NO ONE should be seperated from the child they love. The child in an ideal society, should never have to suffer a loss of love when parents divorce. Gender should never be the issue. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Joseph D Pierontoni (Jacksonville, Fl) I beleive in this situation that joint custody is the best for the children. But I also agree that the system favors women in custody battles. I have just been through it. No blame was establihed on my ex or me, but yet she received full custody, I got visitiation. My children are 5 and 6, I have been there ever since day one, and now only alter- nating holidays and 1/2 the summer... What do my children think???? Why should they be punished because their mother and I got divorced??????? ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Steven Kalabokes (Pittsburgh, PA) I think with the sexual revolution, women have forgotten what motherhood means. Fathers have taken a more active role in the raising of children and deserve better treatment in the courts. Fundamentally, I believe children need both parents but I also think it's time to stop discriminating against fathers, many of whom have shown to be the better parent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Kevin Sheahen (Pittsburgh, PA) I believe as the American Psychological Association, Division 16 said in June of 1995. Children do best in an intact marriage and joint custody is the next best parenting arrangement. The problem with domestic relations courts are the judges. They nuture the legal industry. They seek to find the "at fault parent" using such measurable criteria as a father's height, his work ethic, and his attempts to cooperate as reasons to deny custody OR joint custody. Both parents are equal albeit measurable parenting deficincies. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

DaveW (Mpls. MN) Nothing could be better for the children than a stable two parent family. Mndating custody to the Father,cuts to the root of the problem rather than skirt around it. Faced with the prospect of actually having to PHYSICALLY care for their children, the record numbers out of wedlock births, divorce, and AFDC participants should rapidly return to the levels they were before men overturned the "Man In The House Rule" and "At Fault" divorce laws. This will give us back our stable two parent family, and it will no longer be necessary to continue the ineffective, expensive, civil rights violating "Force Those Deadbeats To Pay" monitory damages programs. The CHILDREN win in the short AND long run. Tax payers see less of their money going to waste. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Joseph Carlson (Hagerstown, PA) That's interesting - what the women's organiztions have to say about why women do and should get custody of the children so often. Along that same line, it's my understanding that men get paid more and promoted more often because generally they are far more reliable, able to take orders much better, perform on the job far better, and are more willing to put in long hard hours. But try to tell that to a woman's organization. They like to talk out of both sides of their face for whatever suits their viewpoint. I never trust a hypocrite. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Wally McDougal (Atlanta, GA) I have never heard one rationale argument or reason by a woman's organization explaining why a mother should be given custody of a child. Likewise I have never heard one positive comment about anything that a man is good for in relation to raising the children (except for providing money, and babysitting whenever the mother decides she needs a sitter). Women teach children disrespect for men. Of course so does TV. It's hard to find a show which does not ridicule men in some way, or show them in stupid clothes and baseball caps. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

KD Coman (Raleigh, NC) Being a father is a Constitutional right, just as being a mother is. A child has a Constitutional right to both parents. Only with joint custody can these rights be protected. Some respondants question fitness. Without a crime commited, who has the right to determine fitness. Do you want some government official determining your fitness to vote or to go to church? A parent has a right to his/her children and no government official should interfere. The government should protect the rights of both parents and the child. As for primary care giver, a unique relationship arises in each family where one parent is usually the breadwinner and the other may stay more at home. BOTH are primary care givers and BOTH are essential to raising the child. "Primary care giver" doctrine is another method of taking children from fathers after the "tender years" doctrine was proved ridiculous; soon the false assumptions of "primary care giver" will hopefully end this father-destroying doctrine. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Sam Luzoni (Cincinnati, Ohio) Good article. There seem to be more and more articles about the plight of fathers. Really it is the plight of the children. I like what Father Hotline said in their comment - fathers seem much more willing to allow other people, such as the mother and grandparents, to be seriously involved in the lives of the children. I hear more and more selfish mother tales. It is quite sad. I do not believe that our society fully understands what it has done - the monster has yet to reach full dimemsions. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

() Women seem to just teach the kids the same old stereotypes. I overheard a man in the coffe shop the other day telling the clerk how his 4 1/2 year old daughter wanted to wear spike heels and a bikini to school. I got the impression she didn't get the idea from him. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

William Daniels (Nashville, TN) I have spoken with many fathers. I cannot believe the number of women who withhold the children from their father, the number of incredulous excuses that the woman use, and the total apathy by most judges in doing anything about it. Father custody used to be the norm. I do not recall reading about any social problems or the need for governt agencies as a result of father custody. The more mothers that get custody of children the more social problems there seem to be, and the more governmental agencies that seem to sprout up. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Men/Fathers HOTLINE (Washington, D.C.) Calls to our HOTLINE (512-472-DADS : DADS@Fathers.org) from concerned fathers indicate that, if given custody, they might be more willing to allow their child to have a relationship with the other parent than mothers are when they are given custody. Children want, need, and love both parents and it is in the child's best interest to have a close, loving relationship with both parents. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Taylor McFarland (Dayton, OH) Fathers have a much more realistic idea of what is necessary to survive in the real world, and a sense of fair play by rules and regulations. Mothers grow up in a world of make believe, and learn how to survive by indirect passive agression. Female tactics are abhorant. So many women believe that by hatching a child someone is suppose to take care of them - they are entitled. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Reinhold Knauss (Toronto, Canada) There are no rights for fathers in custody battles, only responsibilities "access" is not a right, but one of the largest frauds ever committed on this continent. "Access is not seen as a fraud by the courts as it is the courts who committ this crime. Only mothers have enforceable "custodial and support rights" ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Ricky LaJune (Middletown, ND) To the best of my knowledge not one of the 50 states, or any agency in the states, has any idea whether the 3best interest of the children2 criteria that they use to determine child custody in divorce proceeding actually works to the children1s best interest. And I get the impression they don1t care because I don1t think one of the states has made any attempt to find out if it works. The more mothers that can get labeled the 3custodial parent2 the more the influx of federal money into the states, via foodstamps, AFDC, educational loans, etc. And the more control the states have over the money and other assets of men, and the more they infringe the rights of privacy of men. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Alvin Grant (Germantown, Maryland) In a society where gentic cloning and DNA altering may become the norm, we may all someday ask who our real parents are. It took both parents to conceive the child in a consensual joint effort. Joint is the key word. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Charles Brontis (Wellesley) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Mel Stanley (Ft. Worth, TX) As prez of the local chapter of Texas Fathers for Equal Rights, I've seen it all--vindictive moms, greedy lawyers, and judges that only obey the law when it suits their purpose. This divorce culture makes me sick. Domestic courts are so biased--any other group in our nation that was treated the way fathers are in divorce court would be justified in the press and in the halls of Congress to qualify for "affirmative action." (A law requiring 90% father custody for the next 10 years or so, and 50-50 thereafter.) The fact is we need to work on the root cause: easy divorce; we need to keep families together. Until then, joint custody with fathers named "primary joint" around half the time where we need to be. And we need to recognize that fathers emotional support is MORE important than his finanical support. VISIT OUR WEB PAGE AT: www.startext.net/homes/tfer/ ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Mel Stanley (Ft. Worth, TX) As prez of the local chapter of Texas Fathers for Equal Rights, I've seen it all--vindictive moms, greedy lawyers, and judges that only obey the law when it suits their purpose. This divorce culture makes me sick. Domestic courts are so biased--any other group in our nation that was treated the way fathers are in divorce court would be justified in the press and in the halls of Congress to qualify for "affirmative action." (A law requiring 90% father custody for the next 10 years or so, and 50-50 thereafter.) The fact is we need to work on the root cause: easy divorce; we need to keep families together. Until then, joint custody with fathers named "primary joint" around half the time where we need to be. And we need to recognize that fathers emotional support is MORE important than his finanical support. VISIT OUR WEB PAGE AT: www.startext.net/homes/tfer/ ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Vince Schmuki (Waukesha WI) For far too long the scales have swung out of balance. It is time for society to recognize that a man has as much capability caring for their offspring as a woman has as a breadwinner. The Family Court system in Wis. (and other states as the article apparently points out) is stuck in a time warp in regard to this issue. The "system" must wake up to the modern day realities of gender issues. It is time to give kids a chance at having a mom AND dads influence after divorce -not just for the kids sake but for the good of society in general. Vince Schmuki ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Mike Harris (Conyers, GA) I said Joint. After working with young men and boys in the Boy Scouts of America, I can say there is actually a big difference in a boy that has both influences in his life. It is important for the mother to teach him to be nuturing and other more feminine attributes. It is also important for the father to be able teach him to be a leader. I am not saying that a mother couldn't do both or a father couldn't either, but it is a nice perspective to get it from both parents. The best thing for a child that has been through a divorce is for the parents to have respect for each other and make sure the child realizes this. By belittling each other the child looses respect for not only each of his parents but all adult figures. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

David Ben Abraham () Jewish law proclaims at at divorce, the father gets the children over 10 or so years old. No questions, no haggles or judges. In the U.S. the mother has the child until he is 18 yrs unless the father proves with lots of evidence the mother is unfit for parenting (even that may not turn a Judges head). In most cases that I have seen, the child has to VERBALLY express to a judge that he/she want's to be with DAD in order for the custody to change over. In a Jewish sense, the mother may nurture the child till about 10, but the father brings MORALS, STABILITY, STRUCTURE and a religious sense to the child. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Thomas Moore (Atglen, PA) I think The courts are remiss on the subject of parrental rights. The Domestic relations department was treating me like a third rate citizen. I had aggreed to certain visitation rights which my ex promptly changed. She moved with the child out of state 3-4 hours away. The Domestic rel. depart. only inforced the monitary part of the agreements. I had very little to do with the upbring of my son and rarely saw him. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Booker Lucas (Columbus) Both parents, whether together or divorced, need to be an influence in the childs life. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Paul F. Goetz (St. Paul, MN) To the best of my knowledge not one of the 50 states, or any agency in the states, has any idea whether the "best interest of the children" criteria that they use to determine child custody in divorce proceeding actually works to the children's best interest. And I get the impression they don't care because I don't think one of the states has made any attempt to find out if it works. The more mothers that can get labeled the "custodial parent" the more the influx of federal money into the states, via foodstamps, AFDC, educational loans, etc. And the more control the states have over the money and other assets of men, and the more they infringe the rights of privacy of men. In 1982 the Supreme Court wrote: "In Lassiter.... The absence of dispute reflected this C ourt's historical recognition that freedom of personal choice in matters of family life is a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child does not evaporate simply because they have not been model parents.... Even when blood relationships are strained, parents retain a vital interest in preventing the irretrievable destruction of their family life." That would seem to make joint custody mandatory under federal law, unless one parent is obviously unfit in some manner. But the millions of dollars taken from parents annually to support the divorce industry and create jobs for bureaucrats and lawyers is a behemoth detriment to any change. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

You don't need to know that. (Just read the comment!) There really is no need for debate, considering the time. This is 1997. How can you just say:"Mom, because she is more nurturing." Or how can you say:"Dad, because he is more in control." You cannot make these stereo types. In order for a child to survive in such a diverse world they (a child) needs both parents. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

anonymous (anytown,usa) Your article failed to reflect one motive for fathers who actively pursue custody: wanting to avoid child-support payments. As a court appointed examiner who has worked on some bitter custody cases, I found many fathers who were quite vocal abt how much they loved their kids, then in the next breath talk abt how much of a deduction they could get on their income tax if they had custody. Still more importantly, I found in my experience that the more bitter the court battle, the higher degree of family dysfunction there was before the case even began. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Charlie Bedard (Saratoga, Ca) This isn't really a topic for debate. The facts are clear that children NEED both parents. Without clear role models for both the male and female counterparts, a child will build a distorted image of the missing gender. Many young boys have not learned what it means to be male, for example, when raised by a single mother. This is devastating, especially when so many men are available and eager to be with their children. Many boys raised by single moms will grow up with strong feminized values many of which work just fine, but many of which also conflict with the male tendencies. Without an example of how to manage those inherent male pressures, adolescent boys make up their own rules influenced by other sources, such as TV (not exactly the ideal role model)! As the father of two sons, I take seriously the responsibility of ensuring that our boys spend lots of time with Mom to learn about women, but also lots of time in the company of other men and boys. Balance is the key! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Robert Klein (St. Augustine, FL) The legal system should be non-gender based, particularly when it comes to child custody issues. If all things are equal and the parents plan on living within a reasonable distance of each other then joint custody is fine, but when one parent decides to leave the area, state, or country with the children then the needs of the children should be weighed first and foremost ABOVE ALL ELSE. This would have to be decided on each individual case and not just a blanket policy. Child support in these cases should be calculated based on amount of time per year that the non-custodial parent would get the children for and the distance that the primary parent moves. This might encourage staying put so that the children can have access to both parents, which studies have proven over and over again is the best thing for them and us. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

patrick tang (mountain view, CA) it's the children's rights to have two parents. Any other arrangement is an abuse to that right. If that limits the lifestyle of the father, so be it. It that limits the lifestyle of the mother, so it. The current system of mother only custody is nothing but a sad failed social experiment. The only people that benefited were the lawyers. It's time for children's rights, not just lawyers' rights. patrick tang PS Forget the feminists like Sheila Kuhuan, the antimale lesbian legislature in CA. She who does not play the game does not make the rules. There will not be Sheila Jr., she will not be the people propagating this society, she will not have kids. Society is about having kids. It would lead nowhere for us to cater to what she wants. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

UpBeat Dads, Inc. (Oakland, CA) "UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON CHILD AND FAMILY WELFARE" report to Congress and the President "Parenting Our Children - In the Best Interest of the Nation" The charge of the Commission was to report on specific concerns about the **NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS**, CHILDREN AND DIVORCE. (**The Non-Custodial Parent** has ususally been the Father) 1. Recommendations 2. Report 3. Minority Report (Commissioner Harrington) 4. Minority Report (Commissioner Guidubaldi) WEB -SITE: http://www.bennett.com/cops (three links to the three sections of the report at the bottom of this page) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

UpBeat Dads, Inc. (Oakland, CA) "UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON CHILD AND FAMILY WELFARE" report to Congress and the President "Parenting Our Children - In the Best Interest of the Nation" The charge of the Commission was to report on specific concerns about the **NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS**, CHILDREN AND DIVORCE. (**The Non-Custodial Parent** has ususally been the Father) 1. Recommendations 2. Report 3. Minority Report (Commissioner Harrington) 4. Minority Report (Commissioner Guidubaldi) WEB -SITE: http://www.bennett.com/cops (three links to the three sections of the report at the bottom of this page) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

UpBeat Dads, Inc. (Oakland, CA) "UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON CHILD AND FAMILY WELFARE" report to Congress and the President "Parenting Our Children - In the Best Interest of the Nation" The charge of the Commission was to report on specific concerns about the **NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS**, CHILDREN AND DIVORCE. (**The Non-Custodial Parent** has ususally been the Father) 1. Recommendations 2. Report 3. Minority Report (Commissioner Harrington) 4. Minority Report (Commissioner Guidubaldi) WEB -SITE: http://www.bennett.com/cops (three links to the three sections of the report at the bottom of this page) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

David Osterman (Toronto, Canada) Not long ago, I took my children to their school concert night. I watched my little daughter, amongst the kindergarden choir, scan the audience from the stage. Her face lit up with a big grin; not for me but for my ex-wife. Then another big grin: she had seen me. After the concert she beamed as, with one hand in my hand, and the other in her mother's, she showed us her classroom projects. What a special moment for her; to have both of her parents, together. The discomfort I felt was a small price to see the joy on her face. Children do best with both parents. Fathers have long sacrificed time with the children to make the family financially secure. Aren't they, and their children, entitled to a parent/child relationship regardless of the whim of the mother? ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Mrs. Hoffer (&divorced) (was Mad.Hgts MI, now FT.Myers FL) I wanted to live in Florida after my divorce when my only child, boy, was 11. But I didn't move so I was not taking my son away from his father. Now that my son is 25, I able to go on with my life and move. If we are making babies, then the babies' interests are first, not our own. Ideally we make our marriages work (yes, that is required before having children) and not jumping ship when things don't go one indiviual's way. But in the cases of divorce, I would say, generally, joint custody. There are situations that don't warrant joint, i.e. mental/physical abuse, drug abbuse, high criminal acts....then the child(ren) would go to the most fit of the two parents. If necessary, neither one, but someone more fit. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Mrs. Hoffer (&divorced) (was Mad.Hgts MI, now FT.Myers FL) I wanted to live in Florida after my divorce when my only child, boy, was 11. But I didn't move so I was not taking my son away from his father. Now that my son is 25, I able to go on with my life and move. If we are making babies, then the babies' interests are first, not our own. Ideally we make our marriages work (yes, that is required before having children) and not jumping ship when things don't go one indiviual's way. But in the cases of divorce, I would say, generally, joint custody. There are situations that don't warrant joint, i.e. mental/physical abuse, drug abbuse, high criminal acts....then the child(ren) would go to the most fit of the two parents. If necessary, neither one, but someone more fit. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Albert E. Whale (Pittsburgh, PA) My Custody Pages http://www.hky.com/custody.html Domestic Violence collection: http://www.hky.com/domestic.html ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

David Nevers (Clarendon Hills, IL) If 85% of jobs were held by men, it would be called discrimination. If 85% of all university students were male, it would be called discrimination. Yet when 85% of the children of divorce are awarded to women, its called, "Best Interest of the Child." ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Robert Klein (St. Augustine, FL) The legal system should be non-gender based, particularly when it comes to child custody issues. If all things are equal and the parents plan on living within a reasonable distance of each other then joint custody is fine, but when one parent decides to leave the area, state, or country with the children then the needs of the children should be weighed first and foremost ABOVE ALL ELSE. This would have to be decided on each individual case and not just a blanket policy. Child support in these cases should be calculated based on amount of time per year that the non-custodial parent would get the children for and the distance that the primary parent moves. This might encourage staying put so that the children can have access to both parents, which studies have proven over and over again is the best thing for them and us. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Anne (Ontario, Canada) When people divorce each other, they should't divorce the kids. Kids need both male and female input in their lives. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Chris Godwin (Ann Arbor, Michigan) Sadly, the debate over Father's Rights is demonstrative of the larger state of "gender justice" in the western world, where a generation of men are being held responsible for the injustices - apparent and imagined - of their male *and* female ancestors. We have a situation where we create programs to help women overcome the difficulties of life in modern society, while for men we build jails to incarcerate them, punish them and segregate them from society. It is no wonder the children are suffering; many times the mother uses/abuses the system to gain advantage in divorce and custody proceedings with alomst complete unpugnity. What message is this that we send our childen? That women have rights and that men have responsibilities, but not the reverse? This does not seem consistent with a just society, and thus it's no surprise that men/fathers are finally sticking up for the equal rights that are their's. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Kathy McLaughlin (Belmar, NJ) Being divorced, I realize that children need both parents. They need to feel loved and respected by those who will teach them values, morals, etc. They need to know that both parents are with them through everything even if they live far away.Open visitation is a strong way to encourage this if joint custody is impossibe (as in my case, since my children's father is with the US Army). Children will grow up to be secure and loved and hopefully will instill these feelings in their children. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

gary (arlington, va) Society must return to its historic policy of awarding custody to fathers to reverse the tidal wave of social pathologies engendered by sole mother custody. The evidence is in: this 30-year experiment has been an abject failure. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Nick (Raleigh, NC) Joint custody should be the default for all families going through a divorce as long as any kind of abuse is not involved. Why should a father (or mother) have to fight for what is already theirs? ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Albert E. Whale (Pittsburgh, PA) My Custody Pages http://www.hky.com/custody.html Domestic Violence collection: http://www.hky.com/domestic.html ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Albert E. Whale (Pittsburgh, PA) Fathers usually go into the courtroom with both arms tied, blindfolded, gagged and both ankles tied together. But ex-wife went into court to extol the Medical problem which she had, 10 Pages worth! NONE of this was verified with a Medical report - I GOT HOSED! Later she decided that this tactic worked so well that she needed a Pacemaker - and they installed it Under the Breast (so you could see a lump - yeah right!)! Men have traditionally had no rights in Divorce. I was an abused husband, and because I WANT Custody of my children, my ex-wife wants to torture my oldest son - Parental Alienation - it's a horrible thing. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Roger F. Gay (From Texas to Stockholm) Here in Sweden, joint custody is automatic so long as the parents were married and possible for never married parents. More than 80% of all parents who don't live together have joint custody, with what appears to be a higher rate of cooperation and stability for children. Even if irrational, the US prefers sole custody, isolating one of the parents. It is clear that as a rule, fathers offer better economic and emotional stability. If you have to have a general rule for preference of one over the other, it's rather clear that fathers are the best choice. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Stanley Green (near Walla Walla, WA) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Doug Reid (Vancouver Canada) Children from single mother families have between 1.8 and 2.6 times the emotional, behavioural, social and education problems requiring attention that children from two-parent families. (n=21,873, StatsCan 11/96) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Penny (Aberdeen, SD) Check the story of King Solomon again! He was going to give joint custody by splitting the child in half with a sword! This was his way of finding out who the real mother was as she was willing to give up her child in order that the child might live. Each custody case should be based on the situation. The parent or parent(s) who have the child's interests at heart should be granted custody, or joint custody. Then this needs to be reviewed every so often as situations change and therefore, the custody may need to change. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Debbie Hockaday (Winter Haven, Florida) I said Joint, because I feel that both parents are responsible for the children. I am a single mother with sole custody, and I see the hurt it has caused my children. This is not because I have sole custody, but because although their father lives only a few miles away, HE has chosen not to have any part in their lives. Yes they need a father, but not necessarily one that does not even care about them. I cannot be both parents, but I work full time and the children do suffer. I wish more than anything that they had a father who would love them and wanted to be a part of their lives. I have never kept him from his kids, this has been his choice. They just suffer the consequences of his irresponsibility. But I am aware that all fathers are not low-life scum, that is why I said joint. If both parents are fit. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

henry bevis (hillsboro, TN.) I have been married for 37 years and have raised two children. Both are married and I have 8 grandchildren and there has not been divorce. I know a lot of people that have gotten a divorce, and it seemes that the man always comes in last when it comes to the children. I think that all things being equal, that there should be joint costody. I think there are cases where the mother should have total costody, but at the same time there are times where I think that the father should have total costody. I think that the courts need to think about what they are doing to the children. Because that is what counts in the end. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Jim Brozenick (Pittsburgh) I believe in Joint custody. I am a divorced father. The court systems lean too much towards the mothers. To many mothers use the child to get revenge on the father. This should be about the childs rights. Not the father's and mother's. The child has a right to know both parents. The court should recognize when the mother or father is using the child to get back at the other parent. The court systems need to be more understanding to the child rights and not the lawyers who try to get rich by trying to battle back and forth. I feel that the judge should talk the parents and not just the lawyers. All I want is to see my child and to be apart of her life. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Donald Bieniewicz (Vienna, Virginia) Joint custody, of course, should be the norm, as it is in marriage. Kids need both their parents, and vice versa. A parent should lose custody -- and their Constitutionally protected parental rights -- only when there is clear and convincing evidence that the parent has abused the children and cannot be rehabilitated as a fit parent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Donald Bieniewicz (Vienna, Virginia) Joint custody, of course, should be the norm, as it is in marriage. Kids need both their parents, and vice versa. A parent should lose custody -- and their Constitutionally protected parental rights -- only when there is clear and convincing evidence that the parent has abused the children and cannot be rehabilitated as a fit parent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Tim Parker (Mt. Carmel, TN) I know of too many good and decent fathers who been have ripped out of their childrens lives for no good reason. Only because of the lie that mothers make better parents. The lies must stop! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Art Lemasters (Joplin, Missouri) The government should stop taking jurisdiction over our children. There are far too many divorces for the sake of feminist "sexual freedom." The doctrine of "parens patriae" between the state and our children has no proper place where the children have parents. The government should vacate its role as family-buster. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Steve Bigos (Tiverton R.I.) joint custody , is the way to go ...BUT IN this country joint custody isnt equal ......the parent who has physical custody has all the power,with school,health,and visitation,so what is really joint custody? ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Richard Bennett (Cupertino, CA) A study by the National Institutes of Mental Health found that mothers and fathers share parenting equally in intact families where both parents work, so the "primary caretaker" notion no longer has a truthful foundation. Post-divorce custody arrangements have to consider who has more career flexibility, and who is the more "friendly" parent. "Moveaways" are the worst thing we do to children following divorce, and should be severely curbed. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Tim Barden (Burlington, VT) Presumption of Joint Custody will go far in preventing destructive patterns of communication between divorcing parents. Divorce is never easy on anyone. However, laws that encourage one parent to cut-off another by demanding sole custody in anticipation of preferential treatment economic treatment by the court is one of the most destructive things a parent can do to their children. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Robert Wilson (Madison) Western Civilization build on Judeo-Christian values has for 1500 years presumed that children should be raised in a patriarchal family. There's no reason to believe that 'mothers custody' or 'joint custody' will promote better parenting than this. Instead, another problem is created, child support. We know that Welfare was a complete failure, how long is it going to take us to figure out Child Support is a failure? Another thing to consider is motivation. Are children being motivated when they are raised in subsidized household? The same questions apply to any female headed household. Do we want this for the future of America? For some reason people don't equate child support with welfare. That's exactly what we get with joint and mothers custody. More divorces, more fatherless homes, more bureacracy, bigger government, more taxes ect. The solution to this is simple, fathers custody and abolishing the child support and welfare systems. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

() People seem to have some pretty strong opinions, many based on personal experience it would seem. What about asking the kids for their opinion? ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Victoria (S. A. Texas) If moms have custody dads dont see their children. If Their is joint custody Moms have primary and dads don't see their children. Moms are the primary nurturers because Dad's support them to stay home. After divorce Dads still support them along with the State and child support/Alimony. I was adopted, my A-mom divorced my A-dad I never got to see him. Now my A-mom doesn't support my life against her desires and won't speak to me (like she did with my A-dad). I have NO parents. Maybe if I was allowed to live with My A-Dad I would have been cared for and loved but kids don't have a say in their life during the battle of "Im the Better Parent" anyone that refuses the other parent access to their children is the "bad" parent which more and more is MOM not dad! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Barbara Diamond (St.Augustine) I used to think that the Mother should automatically get the child/children, but in the past years I have come to believe that if both parents are fir there should be joint custody. Both parents play a vital part in a child's life. Dads of today are a lot more involved in child rearing these days and play a very dirrerent aspect to a developing childs personality. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

No name (No city) People are just saying fathers should get custody of the kids only because of the article. If both are fit, use joint custody. I just want to tell all you people who said fathers this: Use your mind! If this question was asked BEFORE you read the article I bet 99% of you would have said moms or joint-not dad. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

evelyn greenlaw (lewiston) my daughter johanna gauvreau said it well. i'm VERY proud of you! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

M. B. Blacker (Baltimore, MD) As director of Sensible Accountability For Enforcement (of Child Support) and as a parent I believe that joint custody for children is vital. Though I am aware of many many cases of a single parent raising a child two parents after divorce are still vital to a good and well rounded upbringing. In addition, many issues that propogate problems are resolved if parents share joint legal custody especially as the courts are swamped with cases. Joint custody allows precidents in many cases to eliminate the fighting between the ex spouses and provide more quality parenting for the children. Though fathers are still historically given the "perverbial screwing" by the court sytem, things are slowly changing. However child support accountability is becoming more importan t to assure that children receive the support they need, for them and not for the whims of the parent paid child support. For more information contact S.A.F.E. at http://www.sensible.org ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Emily Rodules (Flora, Illinois) Joint custody is the way to go! I would tell you my comments, but I think that a comment sent in earlier, by JOHANNA GAUVREAU (age 13 from Lewiston Maine) said it all!!!!! Go Johanna! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

paula (decatur, al) Even though the mothers are the primary care givers, the fasthers love and concern for the child sould not be discounted, which in effect is just what happened in my son's custody case. true, his exwife was the one who stayed home and took care of their daughter, but, this was only because my son was the primary wage earner. so, in fact he was penalized because of his strong concern for providing for his family and their finacial needs. so, like so many other fathers he sees his daughter every other weekend. their should be a better answer to this age old problem. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Henry Mayer (Worcester,MA) "If I have to pay for it I will be also the best to take care for it". Since Fathers are paying for their "children"(in Mother-susset 22years olds are still 'children'). they should be given first shot for custody. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Maggie C. (Taft) I picked fathers because I've seen what fatherless children can do to a neighborhood. Our school district used to be the best in the State until it got over run with children from broken homes. The violence, theft and teen pregnancy is out weighing the academic achievements. We've got to discourage female headed households. These ladies have no control over their children. And even worse they have a bad influence on the rest of our children who are at least trying to be good citizens. We need to make fathers responsible for raising their children, since single mothers can't. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Johanna Gauvreau-age 13 (Lewiston (Maine)) I said joint, because I think that if both parents are fit to be the child's parent, then what right does the mother have to automatically take the child? I was reading other responses and a women said the children should be with the mother, because a mother can only give that certain type of love. Excuse me!!!! Who can judge that? A child- male or female- needs a father and a mother figure in his/her life. There is no way you can automatically send the child to either the mother or father, because of their gender. I think women have been oppressed for many years and underestimated for a long time, but now men are getting hit hard. So before I get of the subject too much, I want to say this: Just because the parents don't love one another any more, why should the child suffer and be brought up by only one parent???????? ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Eric Tarkington (Atlanta, GA) Because of unique things that fathers bring to children's development, children need their fathers, and it is abusive to deprive them. People of good will must choose the joint custody option, but society is being cheated, and, what's more important, the children are being cheated. The ugly truth about the court system is that "joint custody" generally means mom gets the kids, dad gets the privilege of paying child support, and the kids get life in society's most endangered group. True joint custody is the best norm the courts can try for. This may not satisfy feminist power-hunger, but it's what's best for the kids. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Lynda (Texas) What rights granted fathers? I wasnt aware they had any other than the privilage to donate sperm and right out a check every month? This country has made numerous "Beat Dead Dad's" because they dared father a child. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

David Malish MD (San Jose, CA.) Routinely awarding custody to the mothers often results in not allowing the father visitation and perpetuating a lifelong welfare mentality regarding child support. One factor never discussed is the billions made by the divorce industry especially divorce attorneys who want the present status of high conflict and litigation to continue. They are getting too rich rather than usingcommon sense tactics such as mandatory mediation. To have fathers functioning merely as wallets with no enforcement of their rights to visit and nuture their kids makes the family court system a sham. I submit lawmakers and judges perpetuate more child abuse by placing fathers and new families in financial jeopardy and not enforcing visitation orders. Kids need both parents, not just a check every two weeks. Lawmakers, judges, get your collective heads out of the sand and open your eyes to what is happening to our society! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

SANDRA PANTER -grandmother (MCMINNVILLE, TENN ) I SAID JOINT- CHILDREN SUFFER THE MOST THROUGH.DIVORCE . LETS TAKE CARE OF OUR CHILDREN WOANTS FIRST. AND THEY WOAN'T DAD AND MOM. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Christina Johnson (Arcadia, Ca) Feminism has really messed up everything. Women don't have any morals any more. They sleep with any man that comes along, then when they get pregnant they want the tax payers to help them get child support or welfare. If we told women that we were not going to help them if they decide to divorce, maybe they would be more careful of who they marry or sleep with in the first place. Why should my tax dollars go to pay for the District Attorney to collect child support for some other woman and her kids. If the Judges just opened their eyes they would see that if they gave custody to the fathers we wouldn't have this big problem. We need to end child support and welfare. We need to make parents responsible for their children, not give them excuses to divorce and hav e illegitimate children. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Rachel (near Pittsburgh) I think that the mothers should have cutody. There's a certain kind of love that only mothers can give thier children and sometimes that's all that they need. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Sean Sims (Encinitas, California) A majority of the problems involving the resolution of custody disputes stem from the irrational decisions being made by this country's elected judges. The family court system currently in place is no less than a joke. I cannot understand what is going through the mind of a judge when he/she strips a child away from his/her father with no solid basis. In a large number of cases, these decisions are based on the "Maternal Doctrine" and not on the facts involved with the case itself. This is wrong and must come to a stop! As a dad, is it too much to ask to want to spend quality time with my child, to teach my child right from wrong and good from bad, to be a part of my child's life as she blossoms into a young lady? Is it too much to ask? ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Shalini (Los Angeles) I believe that for the betterment of the child it is important that both parents be there for the child, its not possible for a single parent to play the role of both parents. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

James R. Blackston (Jasper, Al 35503) Children deserve both parents. "Those who guide the people mislead them and those who are guided are led astray." Isaiah 9:16. "Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed ..." Isaiah 10:1,2. ************************************************ mailto:jblackston@worldnet.att.net ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Kristov Sorem Sr (McKinleyville,CA ) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Mike Prince (Stockton) The statistical evidence is in, and it clearly shows that mothers are less fit to raise children through their adolescents than fathers. Unfortunately, it has been the children who have suffered, died, and were abused in finding out this lesson in our changing society. It's time for judges to wake up to the real world. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ R. Mark Rogers (Griffin, GA) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Al Sorem (Brainerd, MN) Not much. It seems as what I've been reading, and that is, the courts are biased toward women. Women know this and take advantage of it. I've seen it more than once. Also, more and more women are making false statements, thereby, gaining an advantage. It seems that fathers are guilty until proven innocent. The court system needs to wake up . . . it's time now!! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

A. Steele, Editor, Northern Herald (Bemidji, MN) The parent who is willing and able to, primarily, financially support the child should be awarded custody. The benefits of custody and the undertaking of this responsibility go hand in hand. In some cases, custody under this might be joint, but this is to be avoided. A child needs to know where his/her home is and children of divorce have their lives torn enough without the periodic shredding caused by commuting from one "home" to another. Although there is talk of deadbeat moms and dads, this problem usually occurs in conjunction with nonpayment by the NONcustodial parent. Most parents will support the child in their home. By making the custodial parent the supportive parent, we not only ensure the best for the child, but also save millions of public dollars in administrative and collection costs of support arrearages. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Henry J. Quigley (Catskill, NY) I said joint. I am presently going through a custody battle with my soon to be ex. that I feel I have proved to be unfit. On 7 different occasions my son has gotten out of the house on her or someone that she has entrusted his care to. The last time it resulted in his being rushed to the hospital for hypothermia. After petitioning the courts I was given a court date and told that my son is in "NO INHERENT DANGER".I feel joint custody should be granted if BOTH parents are fit, if not then the courts should look at the abililty of the father as a sole custodian. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Sarah C (Rock Springs, Wy) I said joint because both parents usually have something positive to add to the child's life. The child needs both parents for different reasons. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Richard (Alta Loma, CA.) I can only go by my own experience, my ex is a drug addict and alcoholic. She1s on welfare but has a certificate from the State of California as a psychological Tech making $40,000.00 a year but would rather sit on her behind than work. I pay child support and do see my children on a regular basis. I feel that many of the problems with the youth today are a result of single parenting.. Look at the work ethic my children are learning from their mother, not to mention her moral and character.. Wondering why more people aren1t seeing this!!!! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Jerry (Mpls) Entitlement is for all children worldwide except in America, where the custodial parent profits. Less than 5% of divorced father's are allowed normal contact with their children. 50% have none. To remove the father from his children requires no proof of abuse, and minimum removal from his children in America in 9 months, yet 54% of proven child abuse is from the mother. Then he pays child support, and if just 3 weeks late paying, he goes to jail without a trial. Yet SAT's continue to plumet, obesity rates are off the scale, and fatherless children flock to gangs looking for the only sense of family left in this country. Right minded people see this going on today, and do nothing about it as extremists groups, such as NOW, pump out anti-male propaganda. I'm afraid the only way to stop this trend is to make things worse on families if there is divorce. Today, even children try to get pregnant...it's profitable...and only our children lose. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Cheryl Harpole (Carrollton, IL) I think that it is wonderful for fathers to take a great intrest in their children. It is to bad that all fathers of divorced children can not take such intrest in their children. I wish that my childs dad would at least call her or send her a card. He lives 25 miles away and can't take the time to come and see her. Glad that some father's know what they would be missing out on. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Ted Greenfield (Whitby, Ontario, Canada) ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Andrew Best (Brick, New Jersey) Custody situations must be considered on a case by case basis. Laws favoring one parent over another are wrong. In an 'all things equal' situation, the parent who can provide the most for the children; love, care, education, etc should get custody. Unfortunately, in today's society, that person is usally the Father. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Paul Laird (Yelm WA) What rights? The right to not even ask for custody? Most lawyers discourage dads from seeking custody. The right to seek custody once in the court room? Thousands of judges everyday till dads that mom is "the only natural parent." The right to pay outrageous child support with no guarantee of ever seeing their kids? 60% of custodial moms think dad should not be allowed to see the kids. Men have no rights in custody situations. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Jim Turner (Pasadena, USA) First of all I think the people who voted for joint custody have never heard the Bible story where two women came before King Soloman with a baby and claimed they both were the child's mother. Solomons solution was to give each woman joint custody of the child. It is the argument that the social system based on male kinship is undergoing a breakdown and being replaced by the older stone aged system of social organization based on female kinship. The principle of male kinship is that every child has a sociological father. The principle of female kinship is that every woman has the right to control her own sexuality. America has to choose in which principle we want our children to follow. A principle based on monogomy, stable, patriarchal families. Or one based on promiscuity, child support and subsidies. I hope our decision is for a civilized society which creates, promotes and motives the patriarchal family; fatherhood. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Roy Burrage (Chattanooga, TN) I believe joint is the better option. It took 2 to make 'em, it takes 2 to raise 'em. Mother only custody generally degrades to a battle over when, where, and how access will occur, especially when she gets angry with Dad. Fathers are not visitors and should be afforded equal parenting rights and responsibilities. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Joseph Arditti (Irvine, CA) Fathers for two reasons: 1. They pay child support to raise the child. Theoretically it isonly a share they pay, butin fact it is mostly 80100%. If children stayed with the parent who pays, both families (father and child/children; mother) will be better off. This is so because if they do not have the children women will be ableto go out and work. As a result fathers will not have to support two households. The real winners will be the children who will be better off financially even if the mother will not pay any child support. 2. Fathers are less apt to use children as weapons. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

r. oconnor (jacksonville nc.) joint is best, but now days the parents want the gov. to raise their children,i.e., head start, pre-school, grade school, after school care and then T.V. then to bed, It seems that neither parent wants to raise the kids just have them... ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Jan Cohen (Deer Park, NY) The keyword was "battle." It's very meaning implies at least one or more losers. Parents who find themselves facing custody issues while not in possession of the appropriate communicative skills, should be afforded the opportunity to garner said skills. If not for themselves, at least for the benefit of their children. And though the problem is far more complex than the space one paragraph's text might exemplify, there is only one true resolution to be found via the likes of online surveys like this one: a child needs two parents. Jan Cohen Family Forever... http://home.pb.net/~janfcohen ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Merrill Allen (Essex Junction, Vermont) If you rid the Family Court of the lawyers, the custody issue becomes moot and the parents will work it out to the benefit of the children. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Lee Hunt (Joneboro) No study shows that women are any better at parenting than men. The constant bias by the courts against men is unreasonable. Men are nothing but walking wallets to the vast majority of Judges and women. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Heather Barrow (Montgomery, AL) I think if both parents are "fit", they should have joint custody. I do believe in most cases the mother is the primary caretaker especially for a pre-school child but that does not make a father's role any less important. As bad as divorce might be, an optimistic view of the situation is joint custody after a divorce would probably raise the involvement of the father's role in the child's life. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Kevin Jenkins (Columbia, MO) My ex-wife and I completed our divorce in April. I finally went with joint custody because I felt the court battle would have been destructive to everyone involved-especially the children. My wife will be moving to Memphis in a few months with the children. I will also be moving there so that I can remain a vital part of their lives. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Cathie (Somersworth, NH) I also think parents should have joint custody. Just because the parents are no longer together doesn't mean that the child should have less contact with either parent. It took both parents to bring the child into the world. It shold also take both parents to bring up the child. Just because someone is a mother doesn't mean they are the only ones with parenting skills. Fathers are just as important. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Dennis Henderson (Portland, Oregon) To be sure which parent is the better parent a child custody study should be performed by a qualified professional, taking into account statements from friends,relatives and school teachers. Also and in depth meeting with both parties should be conducted to determine how and what each party feels is in the "best intrest of the children" and do they really put the children first with their actions and daily activities. The children should not be involved in the decision about custody unless there are some special circumstances. The parent that is most involved in the childrens lives ie. volunteering at the school, doctor,dentist,Helping with homework and school programs. this parent should be given extra "points " if that is what you could call it . For a determination on custody ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Catherine Green () I think that a child needs both male and female custody so I think that joint custody is better. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Rheta Sargent (Hot Springs, AR) I said the mother because the bond is usually stronger between mother and child. However, if both parents are truly fit to be raising a child, it makes me wonder what kind of problems they could have that couldn't be worked out to save the marriage. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Andrea () I believe in joint custody if both parents are found fit. Unfortunately as our court systems have shown, fathers have a much harder time getting custody of the children. I believe that if the father is a stronger fit parent then he should have sole custody of the child. On the other hand, if the mother if found as a more fit parent then she should have sole custody of the child. While parents are battling with each other, the children are forgotten. Their feelings should be taken into account. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

jack suttor (plymouth, mn) i am in favor of joint custody. i have a hard time with the 50/50. i suppose that is a good average but should not be the rule. it should change from day to day, it may be 10/90, 0/100, 100/0, 40/60, etc depending on what the needs are at a given time. i sometimes believe the child is the mature person in the triangle. his needs are #1! ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Mike (Minneapolis, MN) What could be better for a child then mother and father particpating in the rearing of that child. If this is not possible and both parents are fit then the father should be giving the same consideration as the mother. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Aaron (Knoxville, TN) I agree with Betsy from Houston. One needs to know more about the particular case. Being a "fit" parent is only a starting point. Until more subtle questions are answered, the default should be joint custody. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

Betsy (Houston, Tex) I think every case is very unique. There are definitely times when the father should be given custody and there are times when the mother should be given custody, but without more facts, I'd have to say joint custody. ------------------------------------------------------------------------< /P>

James Spurrier (Pittsburgh) Mom's usually get custody for a good reason. They're generally more nurturing. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------