Equal Father’s Rights and Mother’s Rights

In a new study at Arizona State University, researchers gave three hypothetical child custody cases to participants and asked them to be the judge.

In one case vignette, the mother was the primary care giver 75 percent of the time.  In another, the father, and in a third they divided child care equally.  In each case, neither parent wanted equal custody, but were each requesting as much living time with the children as possible because each now genuinely feels the children would be better off mostly in their care and not so much in the care of the other parent.

Surprisingly, most decided that timesharing should be equally divided in all three cases.  However, when asked how a real judge would decide, most said that the mother would get more time with the children than the father.  This indicates that the public perception is that courts are unfairly biased toward mother’s rights over father’s rights in custody cases.

The Reasonable Father’s Rights

I am thinking about Charlie Sheen’s custody case. If I were his lawyer, I think I would start by giving him the book “Ethics” by Aristotle (384 to 322 BC).

Aristotle catalogues and describes various virtues and vices, such as boasting or humility, and argues that the best way to behave is by finding the mean between the two.

It does not seem too different from the reasonable man test I learned in law school a couple of thousand plus years later.

I am all for “Do not be ordinary” as Robin Williams said in Dead Poet’s Society. And while I do not want my tombstone to say “Here lies a reasonable man”, I would advise Charlie Sheen that judges are more influenced by Aristotle and tend to favor the parent that seems to be the most reasonable.

Let’s Call a Truce in the Father’s Rights Versus Mother’s Right Battle

Custody battles can get pretty ugly. People do and say things they normally wouldn’t because the stakes are the highest they can be, namely, the children. Father’s rights and mother’s rights are often pitted against each other.

But the highest correlation to a child’s stability and well-being after a divorce is the health of the parent’s relationship.

So let’s call a truce to hostilities until the New Year. Put aside your disputes and differences for the sake of the children and let them have a conflict free holiday season.

The best holiday gift you can give them is to let them know they are loved by their mothers and fathers.

A Blog for Father’s Rights

It’s not only men who fight for father’s rights.

A comment on yesterday’s post sent me to a nicely designed blog called Women for Fathers Rights.  It is for a “wife, sister, mother, friend or any other woman looking to help a man in your life with his child custody and father’s rights issues.”

The blog plans to cover custody arrangements, tips and techniques to assist your man with his battle in the courtroom, and even common questions and answers that arise from being the woman in their lives battling for their rights to be a dad.

Here’s a quote from the blog: “A child with their father in their lives is the best possible outcome of any divorce.”

LeBron James said last night that he asked his mother, Gloria James, for advice while he was making up his mind to play basketball for the Miami Heat.

In the meantime, Leicester Bryce Stovell, 55, was filing suit in the U.S. District Court in D.C., claiming that he is LeBron’s father and asserting father’s rights.  Stovell is a lawyer in private practice, formerly with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The 22 page, 95 paragraph complaint alleges Stovell met Gloria in a Washington bar in 1984 and goes through the history of their relationship.  Stovel is suing both LeBron and Gloria for $4 million for fraud, defamation, misrepresentation, breach of oral contract and tortious interference with contract.

Robin Rivers has posted an interview on OurBigEarth.com with Calvin Sandborn, lawyer and author of The Kind Father.

Sandborn says that we learn to talk to ourselves in our heads with the same voice that we learned from our father.  In trying to teach children to be successful and assert control or power over others, the traditional father addresses his son from a height and treats him harshly.  (“Show him you’re boss!” “Suck it up!” “Don’t be a wuss!”)

The son uses the same voice that his father did when talking to himself.  As a result, the son’s inner life becomes a harsh place.  He tortures himself with cruel self-talk, has contempt for himself and then transfers that contempt to those around him.

The answer, says Sandborn, is to begin to treat yourself compassionately.  Banish the Harsh Father in your self-talk.  Speak daily to yourself with kind and encouraging words.  If you can do this, then you can become your own Kind Father and have more compassionate relationships with your children and others around you.

The legal standard in deciding who will get custody is what is in the best interest of the children. Every judge sees it differently.  If the judge’s father abandoned his family and the judge’s mother slaved day and night to help her son through law school, then the judge will have a hard time understanding why a father should have custody.  The mother does not have an automatic edge in litigation.  The fathers win in at least half of the litigated cases.

There are also certain doctrines and presumptions (but not inflexible rules or requirements) which aid the court in determining the best interest of the child:

Parental rights, Parents must be shown to be unfit before the children will be given to someone else, such as grandparents.

Continuity of placement. If children are doing well where they are, do not mess things up by moving them.

Children’s preference. A judge will consider who the children want to live with. The judge may talk to the child in private and may talk to a child younger than fourteen years of age. The judge is not bound by what the child wants.

Other. The court can consider the custodian’s age, health, wealth, religious beliefs, conduct, type of home, psychological evaluations; the location of the residences of the child’s siblings; the child’s school performance; or anything else the court considers important.

The Father Life, an e-magazine for dads, is giving away Iron Man books and a $100 Hanes gift certificate on April 1, 2010.

When her estranged husband Joseph Reyes had their 3-year-old daughter baptized in the Catholic Church without telling her, Rebecca Shapiro of Chicago filed for temporary restraining order.  She claimed that this could result in harm to the child.

A family law judge issued the order prohibiting Reyes from “exposing his daughter to any other religion other than the Jewish religion during his visitation” for 30 days.  Reyes defied the court order and took his daughter to a Chicago church with news cameras rolling.  Shapiro asked the court to find him in contempt and sentence him to jail for up to six months.

Father’s rights lawyers will be watching this case because the father contends that a court shouldn’t be deciding a child’s religious practices.

“I have found that the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” – Harry S. Truman