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Communicationhelper: After divorce fathers excluded from families

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, parental rights, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on January 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm

After divorce, fathers too often excluded from parenting
By Jason Aulicino

Appeared in print: Wednesday, Dec 30, 2009

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According to the Strengthening Families Act of 2003,

“Nearly 24 million children in the United States, or 34 percent of all such children, live apart from their biological father.

Forty percent of children who live in households without a father have not seen their father in at least one year.

And 50 percent of such children have never visited their father’s home.”

The Census Bureau, in 2006, found that five of every six custodial parents are mothers (83.8 percent). One in six are fathers (16.2 percent), and 37.9 percent of fathers have no access or visitation rights.

Simplified, the result of divorce for the majority of children is a fatherless home.

If you are divorced and are the noncustodial parent, then you probably have experienced first-hand the inequity that exists in divorce and child custody cases. Restrictive visitation rules — or parenting plans, as they are now called — often accompany sole custody awards regardless of circumstance. Many status quo parenting plans are not based on a presumption of shared parenting, nor do they promote a father’s presence in a child’s life after divorce.

A meta-analysis of 33 studies found that “Children living in joint physical custody arrangements had better emotional, behavioral and general adjustment on multiple objective measures, and better academic achievement, when compared to children living in the sole physical custody of mothers.”

Additionally, for parents, and more commonly fathers, who are noncustodial parents and want to have a close, loving, supportive and active role in their children’s lives, a mother’s sole custodial award results in a near impossible visitation schedule and a set of circumstances keeping them from being anything other than a mere “visitor” to their children.

In a majority of cases, sole custody can hardly be justified as promoting the “best interest of the child.”

The conditions for noncustodial parents are deplorable, marginalizing, and often create circumstances that push them out of their children’s lives, creating a preponderance of fatherless homes. In addition, economic hardships, an inability to see the children regularly due to restrictive parenting plans, and the sole custodian’s intentional interference create an unequal balance in the children’s lives. Statistics clearly show the result is the noncustodial parent’s difficulty in maintaining a close relationship with the child.

A national study found that 77 percent of noncustodial fathers are not able to visit their children, as ordered by the court, due to “visitation interference” perpetuated by the custodial parent.

Two other peer-reviewed studies indicate that 40 percent of mothers reported that they had interfered with the noncustodial father’s visitation on at least one occasion to punish the ex-spouse. And approximately 50 percent of mothers see no value in the father’s continued contact with his children.

Because it is true that sole custody is overwhelmingly awarded to the mother, a father must often take a plea-bargain approach to gain substantial parenting time and avoid a restrictive status quo visitation plan. Often fathers must willingly forfeit custody through an out-of-court settlement, even when they believe it is not in the best interest of their children, in order to avoid a worse ruling by the court. This is happening to loving, able and willing fathers who would otherwise be spending time with their children.

If the United States wants fathers to be more involved in their children’s lives, then 24 million children’s living circumstances cannot be ignored.

In addition to promoting a father’s involvement, legal policy must be altered to encourage shared parenting. Only when the laws protect a father’s relationship with his children will society begin to accept that fathers are equally capable of raising a child. Then, and only then, a father will have no need to “win” sole custody of his children to protect his relationship with them.

If a sole custody presumption promotes a father’s presence, then it fails, and it fails big time. We absolutely do not want to promote an impression that a father’s financial obligations through child support are more important for the child’s welfare than the actual contact a child has with that parent.

It is undeniably in the child’s best interest to have both parents raise, provide for, and have the ability to make decisions regarding the upbringing of a child, if they are considered fit to do so.

Perhaps now it is time for a shared-parenting standard to become law rather than just a social movement. Today, millions of children in the United States depend on it.

Jason Aulicino of Eugene (DivorcedChildrensRights@gmail.com), a father and an advocate for divorced children’s rights, is a graduate student in Conflict and Dispute Resolution at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Thanks to Peter Hill for posting this here:
Communicationhelper: After divorce fathers excluded from families.

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  1. Sometime parents makes such decisions but most of the time they forget its effect on their child.

  2. Divorce its just so hard for the kids. when my parents separated, I was so doomed and very disappointed. But I just have to accept things as they are meant to happen. Good thing I got this planner/organizer from co-Parenting-Manager (http://4help.to/plan) which really helped me cope up with the situation. Their website is also perfect for parents and kids who are experiencing the dilemma of divorce.

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