Joint Custody


From JWLESTER@aol.comMon Sep 25 13:26:08 1995
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 13:05:53 -0400
Subject: Joint Custody backlash

Subject: Review of Joint custody (fwd)
Fathers asked:
So IF, and only IF, "Liz" [see below] is correct, then WHO is the best 
custodial parent -- the father who has the highest income and who 
produces less than 1% of children who make up the prison population when 
he runs a single-father household, or the mother who often requires us 
taxpayers to subsidize her so she can raise her children in poverty and 
who produces 70% of the inmates who inhabit our prisons?

Dr. Hirzcy responded with:


		Joint custody: The option of choice

Research results on joint custody have changed and a consensus
has emerged in the psychological literature which suggests that
joint custody should be a rebuttable presumption. Twenty states
currently have joint custody as either a presumption or a

The available literature also supports the following conclusions:

(1) Non-custodial parents are often intentionally victimized
through visitation denial, and children are hurt when the
relationship with either parent is broken in that manner; 

(2) Children adjust much better to divorce in joint custody
compared to sole custody situations; 

(3) Children's attachment bonds to both parents are essential for
healthy development, and those bonds should be protected by the

(4) Joint custody leads to much higher compliance with financial
child support obligations; 

(5) Mothers are much better adjusted and supported more in joint
custody situations; 

(6) Litigation and relitigation is lower in states which have a
presumption for joint custody; 

(7) Joint custody is the preferred option in high conflict
situations, because it helps reduce the conflict over time-and
that is in the best interests of children.

Source: Abstract
William N. Bender. "Joint Custody: The Option of Choice." Journal
of Divorce & Remarriage. Vol. 21(3/4) 1994. The author is an
Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education,
College of Education, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7152.

And I have added my comments in parentheses to the original post below:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 1995 12:51:38 -0500
From: liz 
Subject: Re: JOURNAL review article 

Joint physical custody has been recognized as logistically impractical 
and psychologically detrimental for years now. 

(No, actually joint physical custody has been rejected without test by those
gender bigots such as Liz, some of whom sit on the Family Court bench.
 Warshak does a good job of reviewing and explaining the mistake or
deliberate lies put forward by opponents to joint custody in his book, The
Custody Revolution, Poseidon Press 1993. )

 And joint legal custody, or shared custody, with one parent remaining as the
primary physical 
custodian does little to alter the amount of time a child spends with the
noncustodial parent,

(The amount of time spent is strictly controlled by the orders of the court,
which seldom reflect the desire of fathers for more time with their children.
 So this argument is circular. Legal joint custody limits the amount of time
fathers have with their children, fathers with legal joint custody don't
spend more time with their children, so why give fathers even joint legal
custody if they don't spend more time than the court allows with their
children?  Huh?)

 and does a lot to create control conflicts between parents who continue to
harbor resentment stemming from the failure of the marriage.   

(This can be read as, "Because father still has some limited rights as a
parent, mother can't completely dictate what happens to the children.  This
frustrates her desire to be in complete control and causes her to resent this
lack of complete autocratic dictatorial power over the lives of the other
members of the former family, which she asked the courts to dissolve in 75% of
divorce cases.)

In the Summer 1995 Family Law Quarterly, Joan Zorza summarizes the 
concensus of enlightened thinking 

(What Liz should say is that this is the consensus of gender bigots about any
threat to the continued process of judicial kidnapping of fathers' children
in divorce courts.  She later cites an objection to ANY consideration of
fathers' rights as detrimental to the best interests of the child.  This
repeats her theme that narcissistically equates mother's interests with
child's interest.)

about joint custody generally, although her article otherwise discusses the
battered spouse situation ("Recognizing and Protecting the Privacy and
Confidentiality Needs of Battered Women":  

(Please notice the shift from battered spouse to battered women.  Once again
Liz reveals her gender bias by not noticing that she has ignored battered

"Joint custody awards do not improve the lot of children.  In fact, most 
children in court-imposed joint custody (not just those with abusive 
fathers) do poorly 

(Liz doesn't say that the children do poorly in comparison to children whose
parents are NOT divorced.  There is no comparison to children in the sole
custody of fathers in this study either.)

[ft.nt.60 Gina Kolata, "The Children of Divorce:  
Joint Custody is Found to Offer Little Benefit, N.Y. Times, Mar. 31, l988 
at B13; Nancy D. Polikoff, "Joint Custody:  Only by Agreement of the 
Parties," 8 Woman's Advoc. 1,3 (1987)]

(Two comments about the above "citations", articles in the N.Y. Times are NOT
evidence of any scientific study, and articles in an advocacy journal cannot
be expected to bear any resemblence to truthful presentations of data.)

 and are more depressed and disturbed than children in sole custody,
[ft.nt.61 Sheila J. Kuehl, 
"Against Joint Custody:  A Dissent to the General Bullmoose Theory," 27 
Fam. & Conciliation Courts Rev. 37 (1987)], even when the parents 
genuinely choose joint custody [ft.nt.62 Id.]. 

(See the reference cited at the start of this post to recognize another

 Furthermore, joint custody results in lower child support awards,

(Ah, now we get the real reason Liz is opposed to joint custody.  It will
reduce monthly payments from the victims of judicial kidnapping.)

 which fathers are no more likely to pay than awards made when the mother has
sole custody.
[ft.nt.63 Polikoff, supra, note 60.] 

( I suppose we should believe a woman's advocate instead of the US Census
bureau about the relationship of payments of child support in joint custody
versus sole mother custody cases.  After all the Census Bureau is less
experienced in this survey research sort of thing. :)  See G.H. Lester 1989
publication about payment of child support under various sorts of custody

 Joint custody does not even result in the father spending any more time with
his children. [ft.nt.64 Frank F. Furstenberg & Andrew J. Cherlin, "Divided
Families:  What Happens to 
Children When Parents Fail 33-38 (1991).]"

(Of course what is unsaid here is that the study was one of LEGAL rather than
physical joint custody. So by following the court orders fathers get less
time than they should have with their children..  The misrepresentation that
fathers CHOOSE to spend no more time with their children than the court
allows, is just another lie from our feminist friends.)

And, Zorza says "when the father is an abuser, joint custody awards 
frequently endanger both the abused parent and her children. [ft.nt.65 
Polikoff, supra note 60.]

(Let's change the gender of this statement to see if it would be true as a
propaganda statement intended to slam women. "When the mother is an abuser,
joint custody awards frequently endanger both the abused parent and his
children."  Yep, it works just as well when we make the false assumption that
most mothers are abusers as it does when she falsely assumes most fathers are

Professor Mary Ann Mason had this to say about joint custody in "Equality 
Trap" Simon and Shuster l988:

"There are many things wrong with this unthinking rush to joint custody, 
but the primary objection is that it changes the focus of custody away 
from the 'best interests of the child' to the best interests of the 
parents--or, more precisely, to the best interests of the father."

(Note once again the linkage between child and mother as if they are one and
the same.  Any shift from best interest of child is to best interest of
father. This is a narcissistic departure from reality.)

Joint custody *increases*, not decreases, covert resentment 

( on the part of the non-victorious mother?)

 and conflict, because it permits the parent who is *not* spending the
day-to-day time 
raising the children and operating the household to exercise veto power 
over decisions made by the CP 

(how can there BE a CP if there is joint custody?),

 and if so inclined, to meddle and interfere,

 (as do many  mothers with sole custody when visitation can be denied with

creating stalemate, and power plays to attempt to break it between the 
two parents.  Some of these "power plays" are:  good parent/bad parent 
game, visitation conflicts, and withholding of support. 

And, for a summary of the relationship found by one researcher between 
visitation denial claims and child support, and also debunking the 
popular myth that women increasingly use false sex abuse allegations as a 
weapon against fathers in divorce cases, see an article by J. Pearson, 
Ph.D., published Summer l993 FAMILY LAW QUARTERLY, Vol. 27 No.2 American 
Bar Association, Ten Myths About Family Law, a synopsis of research 
conducted by The Center for Policy Research.

A key factor in successful parenting in intact homes is the ability to 
parent in unison and provide a united front.  (See, e.g. Penelope Leach, 
and other child development experts.)

Persons who are married have difficulty enough parenting in unison and 
doing a good job of it, but at least where they disagree, they share 
common goals, and have a relationship between themselves to preserve, 
which is incentive for compromise and respectful discourse.  That's 
absent in a divorce situation, and strained even more when stepparents 
enter the picture with their own interests and agendas.

Psychological researchers who have expressed negative opinions about 
joint custody include, among others, Anna Freud and Judith Wallerstein.
In short, a major problem is the child's, in Wallerstein's words, living 
a life in "no man's land." Children who routinely shift as a temporary 
resident between two households that have other permanent members who 
"really" live there presents a destructive outlook for a child, damaging 
of identity and self-esteem.  Young children form a sense of identity 
from their family base, and, notwithstanding the fiction, joint custody 
does not give the child a whole family, nor does it approximate a 
two-parent intact home.  The child, in fact, is central and permanent to 
no home, which only reinforces and trauma of the divorce split.  It would 
be far better for the child to have one, stable one-parent "intact" home 
and for the other parent to visit in a complementary way, rather than 
create the conflict of a competing "home."  
(  To call A. Freud and J. Wallerstein researchers is stretching that term
beyond reasonable boundaries.  Wallerstein is a clinician who has published
summaries of her clinical experience.  Not the same as objective studies
conducted on "normal populations". For an explanation of just how Liz and
others have erred in their interpretations of much psychological research on
children and custody arrangements, see R. Warshak, The Custody Revolution,
1993, Poseidon Press.)

Professor David Chambers has written articles from the legal standpoint, 
recommending primary caretaker presumptions and the forbidding of 
physical joint custody over the objection of one parent.  For another 
recent article exploring these issues and concluding that a primary 
caretaker, rather than joint custody presumption is preferable, see 
Phyllis T. Bookspan, "From a Tender Years Presumption to a Primary Parent 
Presumption:  Has Anything Really Changed? ....Should It?"  8 B.Y.U.J. 
Pub.L. 75 (1994).

(This is the feminist backlash against fathers rights. In print.  Have you
noticed the gender split among the authors Liz cites?  Very few men, mostly
women.  This issue is very difficult to be objective about.  Most women feel
very threatened when the idea of men as primary parent is the topic.  Their
fear makes them distort reality to dispute the fact that men are as capable
as women of parenting, if the courts would give them that opportunity.)

Finally, presumptions in divorce laws that purport to grant equal 
standing to parties with unequal power and differing position in real 
life, neither reflects reality nor administers justice.

(Somehow this seems to dismiss that old Constitutional concept of equal
protection. )

  Eliminating litigation is not the goal.  Eliminating the conflict that
causes the 
litigation without yielding injustice *is.*  Presumptions of equality as 
to unequal parties yields inequitable results--injustice.  For example, 
see Zorza, supra.  Also see White, A.C., Family Law and Domestic 
Violence, Fla. Bar. J. Oct. 1994 ("Studies show that abusive fathers are 
far more likely than nonabusive parents to fight for child custody, not 
pay child support, and kidnap children.")   

(What do studies show about abusive mothers and custody?  Since upwards of
61% of all child abuse is perpetrated by mothers in single parent homes,
shouldn't the courts use that as an argument to award sole custody to

As to the best interests of the children:

There simply is no need to choose between unacceptable evils: lack of 
relationship with a beloved noncustodial parent or denying a child the 
right to one

 (obviously Liz can't conceive of two intact homes.  Is that because she
expects Dad to be impoverished by the child support he is ordered to pay?)

 intact home, regardless of the number of parents in that 
home.  A primary parent presumption as to custody coupled with 
appropriate traditional visitation is what is in the child's best 

( This is based on zero scientific studies of outcomes for children.  There
are no such studies carried out over any span of time post divorce.  The
Wallerstein publications are excerpts from clinical work, not real studies of
randomly selected cases of families post divorce.  The result is similar to
those gender feminists who report "studies" of the women in shelters for
battered women and extrapolate those data to the whole universe of women.
 Most of the citations Liz offers are opinions published by women and lawyers
who have no real data to support those opinions.  Which is to say bigots can
be published in many different ways, but without any scientific studies of
the impact of both mother / father / and joint custody on many children, they
are only repeating their bigotry.  As to the TRADITIONAL VISITATION concept,
shall we speak of traditional work roles for men and women in the same
breath?  The tradition of sole mother custody is a young one in the scope of
history.  Up until the 1870's the TRADITIONAL legal action was to place
children in the custody of their fathers.  Without the pseudo science which
supported the infamous tender years doctrine, and the socialistic wealth
transfer of welfare and child support laws, sole mother custody would never
have been accepted or wanted by most women.)

  The politics of adult rights has no business injecting 
itself into this issue as a competing consideration to the best interests 
of the child. 

(The operative words here are "this issue" which Liz defines as equating best
interest of the child with sole mother custody.  This is consistent with her
bias, and unfortunately the bias of many judges.  It isn't supported by any
research from the psychological literature.  To fail to assert that ALL
parties mother, father, and children, have rights that must be protected in
divorce orders, is exactly the judicial abuse which will result in more and
more civil rights cases against such gender bias in custody awards.)


Jerry Lester, Ph.D.


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