THE DISPOSABLE PARENT: The Case for Joint Custody by Mel & William Haddad Roman

THE DISPOSABLE PARENT: The Case for Joint Custody

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You can't be a real father once a week,"" the authors maintain: single-parent custody shuts one parent in with the children and shuts the other parent out, maximizing the impact of divorce on everyone involved. It is their contention, following a study of joint custody families and a review of the inconclusive literature on divorce and families, that shared custody is more satisfying for all concerned. ""Those children who fared best after divorce were those who were free to develop loving and full relationships with both parents."" Both Roman and Haddad, fathers frustrated by traditional custody arrangements, testify to the legal brick wall which petitioning fathers encounter, and they repeatedly challenge the one-parent-in-charge conclusions of Goldstein et al. in Beyond the Best Interests of the Child (1973), which many jurists use as a standard reference, criticizing it as ""serenely unencumbered by evidence."" They also fault the women's movement for clinging to the idea of maternal sole custody: ""Ironically, the very conditions that feminists decry within the intact household are encouraged in the divorced one."" Fathers, they insist, can do everything but give birth and breast feed, and legal judgments should reflect that competence: joint custody, ""psychologically sound and practical,"" should be seen not merely as an option but as ""the judicial presumption."" Although they tend to minimize the mechanical difficulties of joint arrangements and the existence of immature parents who can't work together, they never lose sight of the emotional benefits--two loving parents for every child. An impassioned argument which points up the inflexibility and limitations of common custody rulings.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1978
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston