Joint Physical Custody: The Cultural Politics
Men’s and father’s rights advocates argue that joint physical custody works to alleviate the inequalities of the traditional custodial-noncustodial parent routine, but many feminists contend that this argument masks an attempt by men to avoid paying child support.
While an estimated one in five divorces with children take shape with shared custody arrangements, obviously, shared parenting cannot work in all cases. Mothers who oppose it, however, face the burden of proving that their husbands are unfit parents. Since more than 30 states now have adopted laws requiring that in deciding custody, courts work from a presumption of shared parenting, so woman cannot rely on gender to give them the advantage in contested custody cases. The presumption of shared custody reduces the leverage that a woman finds in using - or threatening to use - custody to get what she wants in the division of the marital estate, and it increases the willingness of the wife to cooperate with her husband in parenting.
Some feminist activists oppose the presumption arguing that it is unworkable between uncooperative parents and puts at risk women and children who are party to high-conflict divorces.
Father’s rights activists, who have made shared custody a top legislative priority, counter that this parenting regime results in a more than 90 per cent compliance in the payment of child support due.
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CHILDREN’S REACTION – A child’s adjustment to divorce depends upon (1) the quality of their relationship with each parent before the divorce, (2) the intensity and duration of the parental conflict, and (3) the parents' ability to focus on the needs of the children in the divorce.
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