Sunday, December 21, 2008

Two articles on Newsweek

I want to call your attention on two articles that appeared in the prestigious magazine Newsweek, on its December 15th issue. One is a panorama of the most recent developments in the relationships between divorced parents and their children. The other one is a personal testimony of a 14 years old girl, raised on a joint custody arrangement.

In “Not Your Dad's Divorce. How changes in child support laws, and a push by fathers for equal time, are transforming the way this generation of ex-spouses raise their children” (, Susanna Schrobsdorff starts narrating how she and her ex-husband agreed a joint custody arrangement of the two daughters at the moment of their divorce (in their case, the arrangement included that the girls would spend several nights a week with their Dad), and how this arrangement, albeit sometimes complicated and demanding, has proven to be the best for their daughters.

From that point Schrobsdorff summarizes the advancements, slow but sustained, in custody laws, towards joint custody arrangements, as opposed to the “every other weekend wit Dad” of the traditional formula. The author quotes Dr. Leslie Drozd, editor of the journal Child Custody; skating joint custody arrangements are far more frequent now than 20 years ago.
Although nationwide, the proportion of divorced spouses who have joint physical custody is a low 5 percent, in California and Arizona , where statutes permitting joint physical custody were adopted in the 1980s, a decade earlier than in other states with similar statutes, the joint physical custody rates reach up to 27 percent.

A very interesting point in this article is that it links the increase of joint custody arrangements to state readjustment regarding child support. I have already establish the link between them, and I firmly believe that the current child support laws are the financial support to the current state of gender discrimination at the family courts The laws governing child support have also evolved and affected child-custody arrangements. In the last 15 years, most states have passed legislation that ties child support payments to how much time a child spends with the non-custodial parent.

Another crucial point of this article is that it points out that many fathers don’t fight in court their children’s custody because the legal system and their lawyers discourage them from doing so (I have been in that situation, and it seems to me a serious ethical problem for the lawyers that take that position), because the process is too long, too expensive and results are uncertain. All this, even though that the numbers show that those men eager to fight for the sole custody of their children are wining in the same proportion than women.

The article finishes saying that the only way to end the horrors that litigation imposses to fathers seeking the custody of their children, is that courts Stara with the presumption that joint physical custody will be the first option, mainly because evidence shows that a majority of kids who have grown up in joint physical custody arrangements prove to be healthy and satisfied with the relationship with their parents, as oposed to those raised under sole custody regimes.
The second article, less academic but far more moving, is titled “How I divide my life between my divorced parents' homes” ( written by Charlotte Juergens, a 14 years old girl raised on a joint custody arrangement. In this article, she tells how her parents divorced when she was only 2 years old, and how from that moment until today spends her nights at each parent house every other day, spending equal time with each one.
She believes that this arrangement has made possible that she is a healthy person, because in a certain way she has lived as she would have if her parents had lived together, seen them every day.

I advise everyone to read both articles in their entirety, so you can feel like I felt, encouraged to keep up the fight.

We cannot stop. Our children are waiting for us.

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