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Cathy Meyer

Presumptive Joint Custody…Good or Bad?

By June 22, 2009

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There is a new bill waiting for a decision in the Pennsylvania Legislature. House Bill 463, the Presumptive Joint-Custody law, would automatically give each parent equal custody of their children. It would require parents to submit a parenting plan and give the judge the authority to order counseling for them, but would also leave the door open for appeals by both parents for a different custody arrangement.

At the present time, Pennsylvania decides most custody cases on a case-by-case basis with a judge deciding custody based on the “best interest of the child.”

As you can imagine, fathers in Pennsylvania are in favor of House Bill 463 passing and becoming law. “Not everybody is a deadbeat dad,” said Mark Carrol, spokesman for the central Pennsylvania chapter of Fathers4Justice. “I work with a lot of fathers who just want to help raise their children. ... The bottom line is, children need both parents but, for whatever reasons, the courts are biased. Eighty-five percent of the time when dad goes into court asking for more time with his kids, the judge says no.”

Some have differing opinions. “I don’t disagree that both parents need to get involved in the child’s life, but if those two parents don’t get along that does not bode well for a (50/50) shared-custody arrangement,” she said. “My concern is any type of presumption of joint custody will decimate the best interest of the child standard. I believe starting from that presumption takes away all the discretion of the court and the judge, who is the fact finder and who hears from both sides what is going on and makes the final determination of what is in best interest of the child,” says Mary Burchik, chairwoman of the Lebanon County Bar Association’s Family Law Committee.

Mark Carrol is right, not every father is a deadbeat dad and there are many fathers out there who want nothing more than to help raise their children. What about those fathers who are deadbeat dads though? Or, even worse, fathers or mothers who are abusive?

How does a presumptive joint custody law benefit a child in danger of being abused by a parent? House Bill 463 leaves open the option to appeal the custody arrangement but what does the child who is in danger of abuse do while waiting on an appeal.

I don’t agree with Ms. Burchik’s argument. If divorced parents can’t get along the child suffers no matter what the custody arrangement. For the life of me, I can’t see how a good father spending more time with his child can be more damaging just because he doesn’t get along with his ex.

Then there is the idea she has that presumptive joint custody will destroy the best interest of the child standard. When children have two loving parents, nothing would serves a child’s interest more than spending equal time with each parent. If left up to judges, as Ms. Burchik suggests nothing will change and I can’t remember the last time I heard from anyone who got a judgment from a judge that actually took into consideration…”the best interest of the child.”

I’m all for equal/shared custody. I think the damage done to children when parents’ divorce would diminish greatly if both parents played an equal role in children’s lives post divorce. We can’t assume that both parents are good parents though. When that is done there is a danger of children being placed with a parent who will do harm. That is unacceptable!

We need to find a way to make the playing field equal when it comes to child custody but I don’t think making the presumption that both parents are good parents is the cure for the problem.

June 22, 2009 at 7:29 am
(1) d1972 says:

I’m not sure why protecting the “best interest of the child” standard has any value. I’m all for protecting the children, but the standard has been twisted to assume that it’s in the best interest of the child to eliminate their fathers as parents. Somewhere along the way it has become a protection / welfare mechanism for women. The way the system is rigged now, even if the mothers think that the kids might need a father, the financial incentives to minimalize him are great. So they say the “right things” like “I’m all for quality time”, and “I’d never keep them from him”, and “they need consistency”, knowing full well that if the situation was reversed it would be unbearable and certainly be harmful to the children.

Why is there’s a hysterical assumption that treating father’s fairly will all of the sudden mean that things that are wrong now will become right at the same time? If there is a presumption of equal custody, abusers, child molester, high conflict spouses, etc… will all still require an old fashioned structured divorce decree.

June 25, 2009 at 10:18 pm
(2) Leisha Tringali says:

As a parent I thought “best interest of the child” was a good thing, boy what a mistake that was. Children really need both fit parents to raise a emotionally healthy child.

June 25, 2009 at 11:41 pm
(3) Tim Enos says:

Presumptive equal (i.e. 50/50) custody (i.e. both physical and legal) seems the only right place from which to start.

The term “shared” can mean 99/1. For many (mostly fathers) it can mean the short end of an 86/14 split. Words mean things; “shared” doesn’t have to be 50/50. By definition, “equal” is 50/50.

Ceteris paribus, it’s an atomic transaction: you can’t meet “the best interests of the child” unless you start with a presumption of EQUAL custody.

June 26, 2009 at 12:24 am
(4) RJM says:

It Is Clear to anyone who wishes to spend just 15 minutes investigating why Judge do not give equal custody to both Parents. What will be found is that States Collect Billions of Federal Funding under the Social Security Act of title IV-D to seperate one parent from their children enabling the States to collect Federal funding. The States Clearly are using Children of Divorce as Pawns to balance their State Budgets. ALL experts have agreed and one impaticular World Reknown expert Dr. Warren Farrel has done his studies and HAS PROVED (scientificly) that in Most cases that equal parenting is indeed best for the child. So why have Our Courts ignored the best interest of the Child? MONEY!

Enough of the games by Our States and Our Judges, to many children are being hurt leading to major damage to Our Society. It’s Now time to impliment these bills and put an end to all the hurt and damage.

June 26, 2009 at 7:38 am
(5) Randy B says:

Equal parenting time needs to be the standard. The system now encourages mothers to raise false allegations towards dads just so they can get custody and collect “so called” child support. What it really is, is back door alimony.
In my case, I was accused. What happened? My oldest daughter tried to commit suicide twice, ran away from home and now has become pregnant. Why? Because the system took my kids away because of false alligations, never investigated. I was never charged with a crime and the kids are forced to live with a mother who has been diagnosed with major psycological issues. The present “best interest standard” isn’t the best interest of the child, but the best interest of the bar association. The more conflict, the more money goes into the lawyers and government family case workers pockets.

June 26, 2009 at 10:00 am
(6) Cathy Meyer says:

Tim Enos,

Dictionary.com defines share as, “to divide, apportion, or receive equally.” In legal terms, especially when to do with custody some courts use the words “shared custody” instead of “equal custody.”

Presumptive equal custody means making assumptions about the fitness of both parents that may not be in the child’s best interest.

I believe in equal custody. I don’t believe that the courts should presume that both parents are fit parents and not first take into consideration whether both parents are fit parents.

Determining that a parent is fit to share equal custody has to come before a law that automatically gives a parent…whether that parent is mother or father, equal custody.

June 26, 2009 at 10:18 am
(7) Cathy Meyer says:


Hogwash! State’s don’t collect billions in federal funding because more mothers are given custody.

They collect billions in federal funding because of non-custodial parents refusal to pay child support, leaving custodial parents with no recourse other than welfare.

Judges aren’t sitting in back rooms with their heads together conniving with each other about how much money they will make for the state if they give mothers custody.

Non-custodial parents who do not pay court ordered child support are the ones using children as pawns. They use them as pawns against custodial parents. They put their relationship with their children at stake when they don’t pay child support and then turn around a wag a finger at the custodial parent and court system for “separating them from their children.”

Equal custody is about two fit parents doing what is best for the child. It is not and should not be about one parent trying to get out of paying child support.

Dr. Warren Farrel is right, equal custody serves the best interest of the child. What is also serves is the best interest of a non-custodial parent who does not want to pay child support and, believe it or not there are parents out there who will take equal custody of children they don’t truly want just to get out of paying child support.

That is something Dr. Farrel has either over-looked in his research or purposely failed to disclose.

June 26, 2009 at 10:23 am
(8) Cathy Meyer says:

“Because the system took my kids away because of false alligations, never investigated.”

Randy, I’m not a friend of the Family Court System but I have to say, if your children were taken away when there was no investigation, you had a BAD attorney.

Yes, the more conflict, the more a divorce attorney is going to make. When accused of something that could cost you, your children you have to be willing to engage in conflict and fork out money to a divorce attorney.

June 29, 2009 at 2:52 pm
(9) Marianne says:

The term “Best interest of the child” has become a joke in massachusetts. every where you look the best interest of the child has come down to seeing the their Father less, while he pays more to not see his child against the Fathers wishes. The worst part is this is happening to men that have a home that can accomodate the child generously, a flexible work schedule and live in the same town or 5 miles down the road. Since when is dinner once a week with your child and every other weekend a relationship with your child? You have Fathers bending over backwards stepping up to the plate willingly that say I don’t want to be a Father who rights a check has no idea what their homework is, who the teacher is, when he school play is, when their game is. Men feel strongly that they want quality time with their children and they deserve it. I mean if ou are adrug dealer, an alcholic, have a drug problem, abusive to the child,convicted of murder than yes it is in the best interest of the child for that child not to see the parent. But if you love your child, clean record, live close by so a true equal parenting plan will work, can provide food and a roof over the child’s head, their own bed and room, than when would any parent not seeing their child equally be acceptable? It’s about time we embrace 2 parents being active caretakrs in their child’s life opoposed to doing everything we can to suck them dry of their money and ship them off. I mean since when did diviorce mean you no longer see your parent or a broken relationship mean you lose the right to see your child? Come on get a clue Massachusetts!

June 29, 2009 at 3:01 pm
(10) JJ says:

In the absence of any evidence, why is it safer to assume presume that one parent (the mother) is a fit parent? It seems much safer to assume that both are. Automatically assuming that mothers are (and if there can only be one, the fathers are presumed not), has been a societal disaster. If, starting from an equal position, it is shown that it is in the best interest of the child that one parent is preferable to the other parent or to both parents, then so be it.

June 29, 2009 at 4:17 pm
(11) Jeanne S. says:

The biggest problem with this discussion is that most fathers’ rights groups don’t seem to understand that sharing custody does not mean avoiding paying child support. Most reasonable people do not object to the idea of expanding the amount of Time divorced fathers spend with their children, especially when parents live in the same school districts and are not in ongoing conflict with each other. However, few rational people would agree that fathers who spend more time with their children should automatically pay substantially less child support.

Child support is necessary in most cases regardless of the amount of time the children live with each parent, since the majority of the expenses of parenting a child in two homes still need to be paid regardless of how much time the children spend with each parent; if those expenses are shared prorata that means support must be paid by the parent with the larger earnings power. Since most mothers earn less than most fathers, most fathers will need to pay child support to their children’s mother even if they are spending more time with their kids. 50-50 time arrangements do Not Mean that most fathers will not owe child support to their children’s mother. If there is a disparity in parental income, the parent with the greater income still must pay child support so that both parents have the ability to provide an adequate home. ALL the Expenses of raising kids – including food, housing, clothing, medical care, school fees, extracurricular expenses – need to be shared fairly, as well as Time. Increasing visitation time may reduce the custodial parent’s grocery budget but it won’t reduce most of the other costs of raising children in two households. Child support that is computed on a predictable formula, then deducted from a parent’s income and paid through the support agency is the best way to avoid ongoing disputes about whether a parent has paid his/her share of those costs, and a formula based on both parent’s incomes and the real cost of raising kids is the fairest way to assure that the amount ordered is reasonable.

There are many REASONS we use the support collection method we use today. As bad as our current child support system is, it is still better than the “voluntary” support payment method that proceeded the current state of affairs – I was practicing law in the 1970s, way back in the dark ages, before wage withholding orders were common place, and before most support was paid through the support agency – in the late 1970′s in Ohio most child support was initially ordered to be paid directly from the father to the mother. And what happened was a HUGE number of parents Didn’t Pay the very small support orders that were typically ordered in the 1970s (even though most support orders were Small $10-$25/week per child); studies showed something like 75% of the parents ordered to pay support didn’t pay all of what was ordered.

The resulting court cases were a nightmare, since unfortunately very few parents kept good records of the payments made or recieved. Many kids ended up on welfare because their parents were not paying the support ordered, and some double dipping occurred – mothers who received sporadic direct support payments often didn’t tell the welfare department as that would result in a reduction in their welfare benefits – guys who had paid would have to prove what they had paid years later, when the welfare department finally located them to collect the support due.

In those days, child support court proceedings were costly, as the court hearings were Long, full of factual disputes over what was or wasn’t paid. This made legal fees Expensive. I heard many stories about parents who gave up collecting the support owed because they could not afford attorneys, and many stories of those who had to pay the same support obligation twice since at some point he no longer had records to support a payment he’d made 3 years before.

In comparison, today’s child support collection system works reasonably efficiently. With all its flaws, support amounts are predictable and based on a formula that considers both parents’ incomes and the true costs of raising their children; parents who work generally pay the support they were ordered to pay, as it is deducted from their pay automatically. And everyone is able to tell whether what was paid is what was owed, as there are computerized accounting records that verify the payment history – noone has to hire an attorney to prove they paid what was ordered.
Child support collection cases are fast and not costly.

That isn’t to say that our current system of child support is flawless; but those who complain about the current system of child support often do not Understand the extent of the problems that existed before this system was put in place. The current system works much better than its critics recognize.

June 30, 2009 at 8:26 am
(12) Jeff_Schmidt says:

Presumptive joint custody would have saved us a lot of money and probably avoided a lot of problems in our divorce. If we started from a 50/50 position, with the burden to show that I was an unfit parent or that 50/50 custody would harm our children, my ex wife probably would have gone along with me and shared custody. Because we didn’t start as equals, she was confident in her position and the ultimate outcome, she insisted on having primary custody with a plan that let me see “her” children twice a month. She had a long list of reasons as to why that plan was best for the kids and why I needed to “put the kids first”. I don’t think she could tell the difference between good for her and good for the kids.

Needless to say, I couldn’t agree. I grew up in a household where my father was turned into a visitor by divorce decree, and it it was something that I did not want for my kids, so we fought it out. The funny thing is that now that I have primary custody, she now agrees with all of my reasons for sharing custody. Unfortunately, she’s shown that she can’t be trusted and the damage from the battle is such that truly working together is no longer possible.

When it comes to finances, the kids are way better off living with me and their mother paying child support. We are actually better off financially than when we were married. For my kids, it means no reduction in their lifestyle and I can actually put money into their college funds.

When I look at the criteria to determine custody, I can’t seem to find better able to financially provide children anywhere. I guess it’s criteria that can’t coexist with the presumption that mothers (typically lower wage earners) are to have custody and what ever short fall there is can be taken from the fathers.

June 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm
(13) Sally says:

I wish my parents could have shared custody. It just wasn’t done back then. I got to see my father every other weekend until my mother moved away and then it was just a week at Christmas, two in the summer, and when ever he could come out to see me. I missed him terribly and always felt cheated out of that part of my life. I was fortunate to be able to live with him when I went to college, and have the chance to reconnect. I love her to death, but it still makes no sense to me that my crazy mother was automatically assumed to be a fit parent over my rock solid father.

July 1, 2009 at 8:22 pm
(14) Jeff Dick says:

You need to read this whole bill, In drafting this legislation we painstakingly made efforts to insure that domestic violence and certain criminal offenses are exempted from the presumptive law, even with these protections we are still meeting resistence fron the DV and ABA. It has become obvious to those of us working to pass HB463 that equality and fairness are not the priorities of those opposing this Bill. Children need both parents, A presumptive joint is the level playing field. The law as it exists allows a judge to terminate a parents right to parent that in a stable two parent home the judicial system could not infringe. This law would protect the parents relationship with their children and more importantly protect our childrens relationship with both parents. HB 463 is a long overdue piece of legislation that amounts to nothing more than common sense.

July 2, 2009 at 2:33 pm
(15) Steve T says:

I have 50/50 custody because as a modern father I want as much or more a part of raising the kids I helped bring into this world. Thank God I do or I would be living on the street based on the amount of child support I have to pay for my 4 kids.

I really don’t buy the argument that I should have to make up the difference for what their mother can’t afford to pay because I make more. We chose to get divorced and she knew how much money she made per year before doing so. Only the higher earners have to adjust how they live to make up for the fact their former spouses didn’t make as much. Don’t higher earners have to provide the same adequate housing, food, heat, clothes as the lower earners? Why don’t the courts take that into account when figuring child support?

The real kick in the head is there is no accountability to me on her part for what she does with the $. She can spend every cent on herself without any benefit to the kids and there is nothing I can do about it. I have no problem paying 50% of everything it takes to raise my kids but I should not be forced to pay any $ to my ex because I make more $ with no assurance it is used on the kids.

Meanwhile, the law puts me in a bad position financially even with 50/50 custody because of paying her child support I can’t provide for my kids the way I could otherwise which to me is the opposite of the intent of making the higher earner pay in 50/50 situations to make up the difference. Of course, I could move my kids to a worse neighborhood, etc. Now is that fair to the kids or to the higher earner?

July 10, 2009 at 8:55 am
(16) wayne says:

I’m all for equal/shared custody. I think the damage done to children when parents’ divorce would diminish greatly if both parents played an equal role in children’s lives post divorce. We can’t assume that both parents are good parents though. When that is done there is a danger of children being placed with a parent who will do harm. That is unacceptable!

What?????? Um….then exactly how does that make sense to presume the father is the bad parent? How many crack “h” mom’s are out there? How many abusive moms are out there? How many emotionally unstable moms are out there? The bottom line is you can’t presume “anything”. Every case is different and involving different people, situations, and circumstances. I think that’s the point of the bill. Don’t “presume” and at least start from an equal standpoint and prove your case. If you’re a deadbeat dad(or mom) then it will show up in court. There is no reason to presume “both parents are good parents” but there is no reason to presume the dad is….or the mom is for that matter. Does “presume” make a “pre” a$$ out of you and me? Hmmm.

July 10, 2009 at 9:10 am
(17) wayne says:

After reading more of these comments I must say I’m with Steve on the “higher earner” points too. There is absolutely NO accountability to where my 1k a month goes. It just goes. My son where’s the exact same cloths. Eats the exact same food. The only difference I’ve seen is my ex’s sister was able to borrow money from my ex to fix her car. My ex seems to have the latest and greatest $400 cell phone every other month, etc, etc, yet I have to support him at my house just as she does. I feed him. I buy him cloths, he has his own room, bed, etc, etc, I take him places and still spend money on him. I buy his gifts for this and that. I pay to raise my son and then I pay her to…well, I don’t know. I guess I pay her because she’s a “single mom” and 1k a month is the price that is due because everyone feels sorry for her. Well, I’m a single dad. I “pay” the bills. I raise my son. No one “helps” me. Just because I realized when I knew we were having a baby that I needed to get a better education (though I may have spelled that wrong) does that mean that I’m supposed to support my ex and my son…..twice over? I tried to get her to go to college too. Nope, she wasn’t having it. So that’s my fault. Did I miss something? I guess I’m just a deadbeat dad and we shouldn’t presume both parents are good parents……..just the women. Point taken.

July 14, 2009 at 10:07 pm
(18) Robin Gilchrist says:

It’s obvious that Cathy Meyer has no clue about what HB 463 does. Saying it puts children at risk of being exposed to an abusive parent is totally wrong. In a recent study released by the U.S Department of health. The largest percentage of perpitrators of child abuse are women. Nearly 39% of victims were abused by their mothers acting alone,17% by mother and non biological father figure, 17.9% maltreated by fathers acting alone, the remaining, 3% by caregivers, and the remaing unidentified because when the sex of perpatrator was not checked off on report or marked other. Hmmmmm… Why? If you want the truth about HB 463 please feel free to log onto http://www.hb463.com. When children have both parents equally active in their childrens lives it provides for more eyes to be watching over those children. A non biological male figure is less likeley to harm a child if that childs father is an active part of that childs life. Further more maybe that large percentage of mothers would drop if dad was able to keep a closer eye on their children. However sole custody and parental alienation only contribute to that increased risk. So well just have to let another year go by with the same statistics and not change because of uneducated and bias viewpoints like Cathy Meyers who just happens to be a regular contributor to one of the most gender dicriminating political activist groups called Emily’s list.

July 16, 2009 at 1:05 am
(19) Cathy Meyer says:

Yes, Robin, I have a clue. Presumptive Joint Custody puts children in danger of being abused whether that abuser is the mother or the father.

If you have a situation where the mother is abusive and the father leaves the mother due to her abuse of her children what is going to happen with presumptive joint custody?

That mother is going to get equal time with the child that she abuses…unsupervised time.

Presumptive joint custody may be in the best interest of a father who wants 50/50 custody but it is not in the best interest of any child until it is first proven that BOTH parents are good parents…both the mother and the father.

As for Emily’s List, why not share a link to something I’ve contributed? I’d be intersted in seeing it because until you mentioned it I had never heard of Emily’s list.

July 16, 2009 at 7:40 pm
(20) Robin Gilchrist says:

For your info I do have 50/50 custody. My question for you is why did it take 2 yrs and 24,000.00 for a judge to decide I was a fit parent when it was atomaticly assumed her mother was. I am a pediatric emergency romm nurse for 15 yrs. A communtiy servent serving as a firefighter, a community child birth educator and a pediatric advance life support instructor but it still took two years. Six months before I could see my daughter for any length of time. Are you telling their is not a gender bias in the system. 87% of mother are awarded primary or sole custody. Are you telling me that all those fathers are a danger to their children. Open your eyes and check your statistics.

July 22, 2009 at 12:46 am
(21) Robin Gilchrist says:

Here they are According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System’s most current report, Child Maltreatment 2007, of the approximately 794,000 child abuse and neglect victims in 2007, the largest percentage of perpetrators, nearly 80 percent (79.9 %) were parents of the victim, including birth parents, adoptive parents, and stepparents. Of the parents who were perpetrators, about 90 percent (87.7) were biological parents, about 4 percent (4.2) were stepparents, and about 1 percent (0.6) were adoptive parents. Other relatives accounted for an additional 6.6 percent, residential staff for 0 .2 percent, and child daycare providers for 0.5 percent. An unmarried partner of a parent accounted for 4.5 percent of perpetrators.

In 2007, approximately 57 percent (56.5%) of child abuse and neglect perpetrators were women and 42 percent (42.4%) were men. For the most part, female perpetrators were younger than male perpetrators; of the women who were perpetrators, about 45 percent of women were younger than 30 years of age as compared to one-third percent (34.5%) of men. These proportions have remained consistent over the past few years.

November 19, 2009 at 3:25 pm
(22) Tim Shine says:

It’s a law has time has come. It is the child’s birth right. It is the non custodial human right, every reason for having children. The law is constitutionally correct. It will help end the reign of terror of Pennsylvania Family Courts on the children and parents in ordinary divorce and custody cases. Which should be most cases. Help save money in the court system. Attorneys and Judges have been trying to defend laws that are intuitively and rigorously unconstitutional by
extra-ordinary means. House Bill 463 will abolish this.

January 28, 2010 at 7:40 pm
(23) Sam Hill says:

Presumption of Shared Custody is without a doubt in “the best interest of a child” when there are two fit parents. To argue otherwise would mean that organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters have no need to exist. Literally hundreds of chapters across the US. Mission statement from one of these chapters: “Big Brother Big Sisters of ——– County operates under the premise that one caring adult can make a significant difference in the life of a child.” Most people under stand this. However, US Family Courts and Feminists groups do not understand this. Reason is CONTROL and discrimination. Not only are these entities decimating men but children as well. US Family Courts have become puppy mills. Making children property to be given away or titled for ownership. They may have change the language but the deed is the same. Courts have been acting in “the best interest of the courts”, not children. The abuse has been for decades.

June 11, 2010 at 2:36 pm
(24) Emily says:

The author of this article does not understand the bill. It does NOT include a presumption of shared custody when abuse is in the picture. (though many women are now told by scummy lawyers to claim abuse, no matter what… it gets the husband out of the house immediately, with NO PROOF NEEDED… and helps you steal… yes STEAL your kids from your husband).
Tell me this…. if you marry and procreate with someone voluntarily… haven’t you already decided that they were a “fit” parent for your kids???
How does that change because you suddenly decide you don’t want to be married to that person any more?
The kids do not sign up for divorce, and should not be “divorced” from either parent.
The truth is what the fellow said earlier, about the state benefiting financially from child support. THEY DO. They get an amount based on the amount of child support they collect, thus they have incentive to have as much child support money collected through their system as possible. Not to mention the amount of money the attorney’s make arguing all the support and custody cases that a blanket “best interest of the child” law creates. We all know a judge doesn’t spend enough time on a case to know the real “best interest” of any child. And we all know that the mother is assumed to be the “best” parent, and fathers are screwed. They are treated like scum in the court room, and mothers are never proven to be “fit” before they are given custody.
I know first hand, as I sat by my husband’s side while he fought to retain custody of his kids. His scummy ex wife is the most selfish, non-maternal person I have ever met. She cheated on her husband, and SHE filed for divorce because she wanted a man who made more money. She never takes her kids to any doctors appointments or dentist appointments. She doesn’t even spend time with them, she’s too busy out partying and drinking. But the court doesn’t care. She is mentally unstable and has at least bi-monthly rants about the end of the world, scaring the kids. The court does not care about that. The only discipline she enacts on the kids is to scream at them and embarrass them, publicly. The courts do not care.
My husband is the only stable force in his boys lives. If not for him, they would all be a mess.
And he had to fight and fight, against lies and against ignored facts… just to keep 50/50 custody. And that only happened because the KIDS told the judge they NEED to be with their dad. Otherwise, he would have had his own flesh and blood taken from him (with just VISITATION).
Can you imagine if you love your kids with all your being, and you spend every moment you can with them, and suddenly, with no cause, they can be taken from you???
It’s wrong!!! Just plain wrong.
But the courts can do this, with little or no proof of anything. And allow mothers to use their kids as pawns and to seek more money from their ex-spouse.
Dads don’t support this to save money, like many losers claim. It’s because Dad’s actually love their kids and deserve the chance to be an equal parent. Just as kids deserve the right to have a Dad in their lives.
(the truth is, even if you get 50/50 custody, it only decreases the amount of support you pay by 20% in PA… so it doesn’t save you money…because you actually spend more than that 20% actually caring for your kids when they are with you the 50% of the time or more)
I know a many who was the primary caregiver of his two kids, as he worked a night shift. His wife worked all day, as he was home with the kids. She got home in time to tuck them in at night, and that’s it. When they divorced, she got FULL custody of the two kids that HE was the primary caretaker of!!! How does that make sense?? Because the court is so biased, it’s pathetic.
This legislation is LONG OVERDUE, and is the RIGHT THING to do. Wake up, people!!!

June 11, 2010 at 2:39 pm
(25) Emily says:

And how, exactly, Cathy, do you suggest that the court PROVE that both parents are good parents?

June 11, 2010 at 2:42 pm
(26) Emily says:

Truth is… if you don’t assume that both parents are good parents (unless there is proof otherwise)… then you are assuming just the mom is a good parent, and the dad is a bad parent. This law is the way it should be, from the start. Read the law before you make assumptions about it. It is a good law, and is past it’s time to be passed already. We keep having it re-introduced, but never voted on and passed. Let’s go already, PA government!!!

August 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm
(27) Christine says:

I believe in the need for Child Support and I understand it’s purpose. However, I also get very frustrated that my husband’s child support is also dependent on how many children his ex has that are not even his. My husband is willing to support his stepson (and already does financially and emotionally) and his daughter, but his ex has a third child by another father and has been actively trying to have another child by another father. I strongly believe that having children is a choice. Just like my husband has chosen to work and to provide for his family his ex has a choice to not have more children when she cannot provide for them. In addition, she is all about free service and will utilize all of the free services that are out there even though she is getting paid child support by three fathers, works full time, and consistently has men living with her helping to pay for rent. So, I do have to ask what is she doing with the money? In the meantime, my husband and I are working our little bottoms off to pay the child support and to provide a nuturing home for the kids and having to question whether we can even afford to have our own children. There is something that is not right about the system. I wish we could trust that people would use services and child support honestly because I do understand that there are deadbeat parents out there but for all the good ones who are honestly trying to do what is right there are no safe guards for them.

August 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm
(28) Raising Rayna says:

I believe it is never in the best interest of the
child(ren) to have to pack a bag and be forced to live two seperate lives in two separate homes with two separate set of parenting ideals. Doesn’t divorce mess our children up enough these days? But I agree the courts need to stop raising our children for us when there is a marital breakdown. Simple is; a daughter should be raised with the Mother (providing she is mentally stable and can instill a close relationship between the child and the other parent and a son should be with his father providing the same. Then the non same sex parent has the visitation guidelines as set. Children need structure and stability and how will they know it floating between two homes? The gypsie custody arrangement is not a good one for any child.

November 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm
(29) Rayna's Dad says:

It is always in the best interest of a child to have 2 loving supporting parents. The bad news is, it only takes 1 parent to divorce. I was divorced by my ex, and since it has only been her best interest. The courts in michigan default position is custody to the mother, with the father having to fight tooth and nail for any type or real visitation. I believe for a child to be properly raised 50/50 is the best case seneiro for the child(ren). The father and mother should have equal time and rights in raising a child wether or not they stay married. Mature loving parents would always put the childs best interest frist in all decesions. The problem stems from a parent, who wants to use the child as a weapon to attack, and abuse the other parent. This is very common when the mother is upset with her decesion to file for divorce, or the father takes the action. The mother in most cases will start to try and alienate the child from the father. There are several ways to do this all leading to nothing more than abuse of the child by the attacking parent. There is even a Medical term and studies been done on this. It is called Parental Alienation Syndrome, the child starts to suffer this, and is emotionally and mentally scared deeply. This is a common place in MI for the mother to use and attack the father, because of the default position of the courts. Fathers have to start at no visistation and fight. It should start at 50/50 and then if there are issues of abuse or neglect it should be adjusted. The accuastions of this need to be thourghly investagted and proven. I was nick named “super dad” by my ex-wife, then when she filed for divorce, to gain more money all sorts of false accuastions where thrown out there by her and her attorney. Luckily the courts seen through 99% of the BS but not before a hefty $15,000 attorney bill. Most people can not afford this type of fight, and throw in the towel early. I had to lose my house, and everything I owned to pay for this but I have extended weekends, and 1/2 summer and holidays to raise my child. Our time is worth all the money in the world.

March 9, 2011 at 6:00 am
(30) Harry says:

I just went through a custody modification battle. I am the father who was asking for the mother to help with the transportation (Never helped in 6yrs.) and one more day on my extended weekends. I am very involved with my children, They are provided with a great home and endless love. Im a teacher so education is important to me, they both do great in school. After 2 days in the court room with my ex-wife stating my son is doing poorly in school (88% avg.) and the 17min. drive from home to home is too much for them. The judge took away 4 days each month. How is this fair for the children. I dont understand why the parents cant equally be part of the childerns lives. Were both good parents.

September 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm
(31) om says:

Did anyone look at joint custody from child’s view? With two homes, where do they actually belong? I am a child of divorce – if I had to go through joint living I’d go crazy. I wouldn’t want to see my parents argue every time they “exchange” me. I wouldn’t want to attend two schools, have two sets of friends, two rooms etc…. I wouldn’t want to spend hours driving back and forth… I was happy enough to know that my father loves me and that he’ll spend time with me when he can and want, but not because it’s a court order.

People, wake up! stop thinking from parents and court system prospective! Children of divorce don’t need this confusion in their lives, they need a STABLE home and LOVING, CLEAR-HEADED parents.

Equal joint custody works only for parents living within same schools district, parents who don’t argue and are BOTH financially fit. Maybe one couple out of 100 is like that after divorce, so think again!

April 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm
(32) GOD says:

Maybe helping taking care baby while he/she was still in Mom’s womb would show you actually want this child and would love him/her for all the right reasons. Remember, just because you help a seed the ground but if you did not give it water, the seed never had a chance. Think about that DADs before you start fighting for 50/50 custody all of a sudden.

May 3, 2012 at 11:05 pm
(33) fatherforhischildren says:

In many cases joint custody relieves the judge from having to get criticized for doing his job!
I’ve been going through a divorce for over TWO years. Should’ve been open and shut because not only was I initially awarded temporary full custody (yes, as the father!!), but their mother up and moved three states away.
Then a court ordered child custody evaluator sided with me maintaining sole custody as well. The children’s mother has been charged with spousal abuse-few days in jail, no charges filed due to me not pressing charges, been to inpatient drug treatment twice, and even left one state with her other child against the ruling from another judge-separate state and separate case.
These and several other tactics used by her to obtain custody and move away had all failed. But, the courts (more specifically the judge) feel “JOINT CUSTODY” is the best option!!
I had been raising them for nearly two years without support since the other parent decided to fight for custody from 900 miles away. She moves back 6 months prior to the end of court, gets her first job in seven years as a bartender and magically wins “JOINT CUSTODY”? We have fought for two years. We’ve been to ex-parte hearings and were even forced to exchange the children at a police station for months to avoid confrontation, but the judge says “JOINT CUSTODY” is in the “children’s best interest!” it’s all ludicrous and I don’t buy it!!

May 7, 2012 at 11:15 am
(34) Ann says:

I don’t think it’s good to assume that 50 percent custody is good in most cases. In my city, most judges order 50 percent custody, and the parents are totally free to do what they want with the child during the parents’ time. My ex was not involved with our daughter and lived in a different state for 12 years our dasughter’s life. Now, he made a lot of money and didn’t want to pay too much child support, so he moved to where we live and asked for 50 percent and refused to take our daughter to her activities.

Suddenly, after 1w years, our daughter’s life is disrupted. A parent who is not abusive is not necessarily a good parent. I think the insistence on the 50 percent is so that the other parent can claim the head of household status.

July 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm
(35) Anon says:

Sorry, guys. My parents had an amicable divorce, and so did the parents of most of my friends whose parents were divorced. None of us found being forced to spend time in two houses a positive experience.

I have never heard anyone speak fondly of a childhood in shared custody.

The only friend of mine who made a point of spending time with her father was doing so to make up for the fact her two siblings refused to do so once they were too old for their parents to force them into it.

December 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm
(36) mia jane says:

Joint custody when there is domestic violence, drg ise and DUIs is UNACCEPTABLE!!!
The problem with assuming an equal time falls with judges who are inept and uneducated in domestic abuse. Often times the more the abusive men fight.for custody its to control the mother! Give joint to GOOD fathers and mothers, but use caution in high conflict cases, as ABA research shows high conflict cases (20%) are in that conflict due to a violent past.
Utilize all resources before you ruin children of domestic abuse, disabilities or even the parents lives who aren’t the issue.

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