I am in favor of equal parenting rights with equal physical and legal custody. After raising two sons who have no contact with their father, I’ve seen first hand the damage an absent parent can cause.
My ex was given every opportunity to equally parent his children. He wasn’t interested but there are many fathers who fight against a system that favors mothers and one thing a father should never have to do is fight for the right to equally parent his children.
I believe our family court system has to change and in a way, that recognizes the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. Every other weekend and one night a week is not a parent child relationship. It is court ordered visitation and until the courts stop ordering “visitation” and start giving fathers the same recognition given to mothers, children of divorce will continue to suffer.
Below are excerpts from a few studies that back up my belief that equal parenting after divorce is what is in our "children’s best interest."
- "Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality." Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.
- "Teenagers living in single-parent households are more likely to abuse alcohol and at an earlier age compared to children reared in two-parent households." Source: Terry E. Duncan, Susan C. Duncan and Hyman Hops, "The Effects of Family Cohesiveness and Peer Encouragement on the Development of Adolescent Alcohol Use: A Cohort-Sequential Approach to the Analysis of Longitudinal Data", Journal of Studies on Alcohol 55 (1994).
- "The absence of the father in the home affects significantly the behavior of adolescents and results in the greater use of alcohol and marijuana." Source: Deane Scott Berman "Risk Factors Leading to Adolescent Substance Abuse", Adolescence 30 (1995)
- A study of 156 victims of child sexual abuse found that the majority of the children came from disrupted or single-parent homes; only 31 percent of the children lived with both biological parents. Although stepfamilies make up only about 10 percent of all families, 27 percent of the abused children lived with either a stepfather or the mother's boyfriend. Source: Beverly Gomes-Schwartz, Jonathan Horowitz, and Albert P. Cardarelli, "Child Sexual Abuse Victims and Their Treatment", U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justce and Delinquency Prevention.
- Researchers in Michigan determined that "49 percent of all child abuse cases are committed by single mothers." Source: Joan Ditson and Sharon Shay, "A Study of Child Abuse in Lansing, Michigan", Child Abuse and Neglect, 8 (1984).
- "A family structure index, a composite index based on the annual rate of children involved in divorce and the percentage of families with children present that are female headed is a strong predictor of suicide among young adult and adolescent white males." Source: Patricia L. McCall and Kenneth C. Land, "Trends in White Male Adolescent, Young-Adult and Elderly Suicide: Are There Common Underlying Structural Factors?" Social Science Research 23, 1994.
- In a study of 146 adolescent friends of 26 adolescent suicide victims, teens living in single-parent families are not only more likely to commit suicide but also more likely to suffer from psychological disorders, when compared to teens living in intact families. Source: David A. Brent, et al. "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Peers of Adolescent Suicide Victims: Predisposing Factors and Phenomenology.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 34, 1995.
- "Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely that those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity." Source: P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A. Schrepf, "Fatherless Children", New York, Wiley Press, 1984.
- "In 1988, a study of preschool children admitted to New Orleans hospitals as psychiatric patients over a 34-month period found that nearly 80 percent came from fatherless homes." Source: Jack Block, et al. "Parental Functioning and the Home Environment in Families of Divorce", Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27 (1988)
- States with high levels of joint physical custody awards (over 30%) in 1989 and 1990 have shown significantly greater declines in divorce rates in following years through 1995, compared with other states. Divorce rates declined nearly four times faster in high joint custody states, compared with states where joint physical custody is rare. As a result, the states with high levels of joint custody now have significantly lower divorce rates on average than other states. States that favored sole custody also had more divorces involving children. These findings indicate that public policies promoting sole custody may be contributing to the high divorce rate.