Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thoughts on Presuming Joint Custody Part 2 (Mothers and Fathers)

Thoughts on Presuming Joint Custody Part 1 is here.

I had a client many years ago say that she wanted custody and here is her answer when I asked what was wrong with the husband as a father: nothing, he is a great father. The court ordered joint custody. Later, during my sojourn in Indianapolis, she filed a modification because a problem had arisen since the divorce - the new step-mother was causing problems. I do not recall hearing what became of that case.

If you are a man, ask yourself what evidence there was to support either side for sole custody. What evidence was there supporting that you and the wife could cooperate in caring for the children? (And for the person who commenting earlier - you might ask yourself if you were asked these questions by your lawyer.)

Let me say that there are women who should not have custody of their children. Some women have the grit to understand this and act accordingly. I use grit because of what I think is another cultural issue: we expect women to have custody of their children. Reader, think of what you think of women who do not have custody of their children. By the way, if you are a man advocating this joint custody presumption and your first thought of a woman without custody of her children is a bad thought, I suggest you think hard about why this is so. I am in the midst of a second round of a custody case where I got custody for the father and mother filed a petition to modify only a few months after I won the first case.

Here is part of a Divorce Decree where I got custody for the father:

3. Although both parents love their children, MOTHER's life remains unsettled and chaotic, while FATHER is in a stable relationship with a responsible and mature adult who serves as an appropriate step-mother for the children. While both parents work full-time, FATHER has arranged his schedule so that he is available every evening and on weekends. FATHER's support system is best suited to meet the children's needs and to provide stability for them. The children have made significant improvements in their behavior, adjustment, and education since they have been in FATHER's care.
I think the judge here sets out a very good description of the meaning of best interests of the child. I think that paragraph can be read just as well by substituting mother for father. I do not want to retail the evidence in either of my cases - that would take far too much time and space. I do want to note they had two similar characteristics: men who put the children before themselves and mothers with very poor lifestyle choices. In both cases, the mother's witnesses had the same line: the children should be with their mother because their mother loved them. I do not doubt the mothers love their children, but love is not all that is meant by the children's best interests. I think we all know of people who loved but have loved neither wisely nor well.

Part Three will be up tomorrow.

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