In divorce, should the father have equal custody rights to his children?


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by Fran Mascioli

Created on: July 26, 2007   Last Updated: July 20, 2010

A loving father that has no history of improper behavior should have equal custody. Fathers play an important part in early childhood development.  A caring father understands that his children have rights, also. Divorced couples sharing joint custody may become “part-time parents”. When children observe adults that cannot compromise or agree, they suffer in many ways. Children of divorce are often shuffled back and forth, losing close friends and extended family members that live in the neighborhood of the original marital residence. Parents often become self-involved, trying to “get on with their lives” . . . while the children become more resentful of not only the loss of their family unit, but the loss of a parent’s attention. 

Should the children give up their familiar home, and perhaps the family’s pet (because it was granted custody with one parent) and have their school and neighborhood change? Children of divorced parents find it hard to keep up with schoolwork, meeting with their friends, having after-school activities, etc. There is also the added problem that children move to two new locations and only spend a portion of their time in each neighborhood. They don’t get to spend time with their neighbors. In an emergency, a trusted neighbor can be a wonderful friend to a frightened, young child.

Why can’t the parents agree to joint custody by letting the children have a permanent place to live. The parents could alternate living at what becomes the children’s home. In this way, the parents could have separate but equal visiting rights and the children could have a stable home environment. A home can be a safe harbor in the stormy relationship with the parents, and it may offer more comfort and security than the parents can provide. Children need stability and warm, familiar surroundings.

An important lesson for a child going through a divorce to learn is that sometimes things don’t always work out perfectly. By viewing the parent’s compromise in this challenging situation, the children get a glimpse of trust, sharing, alternatives and will view the changes as positive instead of negative. They are better prepared to handle problems that arise later in their lives by seeking a sensible solution for all parties. The arrangements may be difficult, but the entire situation is already very difficult. Divorce means parents separate from each other. That does not mean parents vanish from the family.  

Learn more about this author, Fran Mascioli.

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by Michele Mathews

Created on: January 05, 2008   Last Updated: February 23, 2010

Divorce is hard enough as it is without having the couple fight over custody of the children. If the divorce is an amicable one and the father genuinely cares for the children, that type of father should have equal custody. However, some fathers don’t seem to care about their children even though they helped bring these children into the world, and those fathers don’t deserve to have equal custody.

While some fathers genuinely care about their children, other fathers take very little, if any, interest in their children. Sometimes these fathers are the ones who are abusive or simply have no desire to be a part of their child’s life because they don’t care what happens to the child. They probably didn’t even want the child to begin with. These fathers don’t want their children to participate in any kind of extra-curricular activity like sports, scouts or music. These activities help children learn to socialize and certainly look good on a college application, not to mention that it helps build a child’s self-esteem.

These same fathers sometimes claim they want to see their children every other weekend and other given parenting time based on the state in which they live. However, the fathers don’t spend good quality time with the children after they arrive. They don’t carry on conversations, take them to do things like a movie, or play games with the child. The fathers tend to ignore the children once they do arrive, and that is not the purpose of parenting time.

These fathers tend to have the children do many of the chores around the house. While it’s good to teach children responsibility, a child should not have to be the father’s slave and wash his dirty dishes and clothes for the past two weeks. It is one thing to have your child do the dirty dishes while she is there at the father’s house, but it’s another thing to make her your personal slave. Slavery was banned right after the Civil War. A child is there to spend time with the father, not be a slave and do all of the father’s housework.

If a father isn’t paying his child support, he shouldn’t receive parenting time. In certain states, though, the custodial parent cannot withhold parenting time if the non-custodial parent, who is the father the majority of the time, doesn’t pay child support. It really doesn’t seem fair that a father who isn’t helping to provide support for children, children that he helped bring into the world, has parenting time, and most especially, if he’s not taking a genuine interest in the children to begin with.

In conclusion, not all fathers deserve to have equal custody with the mothers of their children. If these fathers don’t want to participate in their children’s lives in a genuine way and treat their children respectfully, then they certainly don’t deserve equal custody.

Learn more about this author, Michele Mathews.

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