Sunday, March 15, 2009

Joint Custody and the Rights of the Child

The basic goal of joint custody is not protecting the parents, it is protecting children by preserving their natural attachments to their parents. Beck v. Beck states that:

At the root of the joint custody arrangement is the assumption that children in a unified family setting develop attachments to both parents and the severance of either of these attachments is contrary to the child’s best interest. 86 N.J. 487 (1981)

Sole custody not only violates the rights of both parents to be considered equal before the Law, but also violates the rights of the child. New Jersey adopted the Bill of Rights of Children from decisions of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Family Court of Milwaukee County. Among the rights of children mentioned in there, right number ten affirms that children have:

The right to recognition that children involved in a divorce are always disadvantaged parties and that the law must take affirmative steps to protect their welfare… (N.J.S.A. 4:10-11)

Trying to see things from children’s point of view, trying to get for them what they need and crave, should be the primordial task of any court. By awarding sole physical custody, the Court evaded this responsibility disregarding that:

…the paramount consideration of any Court is (…) to insure the safety, happiness, physical, mental, and moral welfare of children. In evaluating this concern, the Court must “strain every effort to attain for the child the love and affection of both parties rather than one.” (New Jersey Practice. Family Law & Practice, p. 445)

The court should try since the very beginning of its procedures to award joint custody, if not for the parents, for the child who is the most vulnerable party of this painful process.

Fighting for our children is more than fighting for equality between men and women. Our fight is the fight for the rights of our children. That is why we cannot afford to give up. Our children are waiting.


  1. Thank you for this article. Fathers’ right to be a meaningful part of their children’s lives, have been eroded to the point of non-existence. My research suggests that this is a phenomenon consistent throughout the industrialized nations. Children who are alienated from their fathers are more likely later in life to have emotional/behavioral problems, suffer from depression, drop out of school, fail in their jobs, and suffer from other social problems. I invite you to visit my site devoted to raising awareness on this growing problem:

  2. Thank you for your comment. It is always good to meet other fathers that are fighting for our kids. Take care.