The custody institution in the United States of America provides for a legal relationship. The custodian is responsible for the welfare of a minor or an adult with a mental or physical disability. In most cases, custody is obtained when the child’s parents die or are deprived of their parental rights. It can also result from the restriction of parental rights due to lack of adequate care, abuse, or parental mistreatment. It is important to note that custody does not terminate the legal bond between the child and his or her blood parents. Children, based on adherence to the principle of respecting their interests, are given the opportunity to maintain contact with both parents. The changes now taking place in the way custody disputes are resolved show that men’s rights to care for children are recognized as well as women’s rights.
There are two types of custody – legal custody and physical custody, which is related to the child living with one of the parents after the divorce. Legal custody essentially means the right to make important decisions. During the marriage, both parents have rights over the child’s upbringing. This includes the right to decide on all aspects of the child’s fostering, including religion and education, as long as the parents’ decisions do not endanger the child. After a divorce, one of the spouses who have legal custody of the child makes all decisions on his or her own. The court can always review the decision to make sure that it was made for the child’s good. Joint legal custody essentially means that both parents have equal rights to make significant decisions affecting their children’s lives. If the parents have agreed to joint legal custody, they have essentially agreed to set aside their personal differences in order to raise their children effectively. In case when there is no legal custody agreement between the parents, that decision will be made by the court.
Custody related to living with children after a divorce means a parent’s right to permanently live with that parent in the same household and responsibility for his or her child as long as he or she lives with that parent. If one parent has obtained the right to live with the child after the divorce, the other parent is likely to obtain visitation rights with the child (Anisha 298). If the parents cannot agree on a schedule for visiting the child, the court will provide one. Sometimes joint physical custody may be possible for the child to live with the parents in equal shares. Then it is possible for children to spend the same amount of time with their mother and father.
In general, the trend now remains that men are much less likely to be allowed custody of their children. Such tendencies are the basis of the ideology of masculism – men see this problem as proof of the existing discrimination against them (Palmer and Subramaniam 98). This led to the emergence of the so-called fathers’ rights movements, and this is not unique to the United States but has a more international character (Palmer and Subramaniam 97). The court’s refusal to grant custody specifically to fathers is due to their lack of involvement in the process of caring for children (Dadds et al. 9). This fact is confirmed by numerous studies by scientists, who conclude that men spend considerably less time with their children than women do.
One of the basic principles of U.S. social policy is the recognition of a child’s right to have access to both parents. Children are guaranteed care and support from both parents and the right to make decisions based on the opinions of both parents. In no case can a child be deprived of this right, even if the parents are divorced. The U.S. Supreme Court has also noted that the preservation of the relationship between children and both parents is of the utmost interest to society.
When it comes to a child, it is the mother who comes to mind first. Such thinking is historically linked to religious values and stereotypes about the “natural” division of gender roles. Recently, however, more and more people are refusing to follow these stereotypes. In their place have come many medical and psychological theories emphasizing the importance of the involvement of both parents in parenting. The dominant view is that the father plays the most critical role in the child’s balanced development from birth.
Generally, courts in most states look to the child’s interests in determining how to exercise parental rights after a divorce. However, it is worth noting that the child’s desires are not a universal legal criterion in determining the form and procedure for exercising parental rights in the United States. It must be coordinated with the interests of the other kids in the family and the parents’ interests. The psychological doctrine has noted the importance of maintaining interaction between the child and the parent who cares most about the child. This is important for the successful socialization of kids, including their physical and mental development (Dadds et al. 9). Under current law in almost all states, mothers and fathers are equally entitled to exercise parental rights after divorce. However, in determining with whom the child will live after the divorce, the courts look at the age and sex of the child. Mothers are usually given preference if the child is young or female. This goes against the analyzed concept of attention to the interests of the child, designed to best meet the needs of children.
Both parents give support and affection – this is the key to the child’s future success. Fathers certainly give a sense of security: children know that everything will be fine with them, and the world is stable and predictable. Dad is also an example for the child of what a family should be like, an understanding of male and female roles in the family – what a father is like and how he relates to the mother. Spending time together with the father has a positive effect on the development of communication skills. In the first year of life, the father’s role in the child’s physical development and the formation of fundamental motor skills is significant (Figure 1). As a rule, fathers play with their children differently from how mothers entertain their babies: fathers are more prone to active physical fun. Then, the father teaches the child to perceive social hierarchy adequately. He makes kids understand what authority means and introduces them to such social tools as approval and censure.
Child Protective Services is the leading child welfare agency in the United States. Its primary mission is to ensure the welfare of the child. The CPS is most often contacted for help by persons who have complained about child abuse. Foster care is another child welfare agency in New York City. This term refers to a system where children who need foster care are placed in foster families or family-type orphanages. It is noteworthy that such foster care provides for financial compensation paid by the state. At the same time, all critical decisions for the child in the case of using this format are taken by the guardianship and custody agencies through the courts. If neither parent can provide decent conditions for their children, they will have to be placed in foster care.
After the baby is born, the father must be actively involved in the child’s upbringing. Both parents take turns getting up at night together and taking turns feeding the baby. When such a couple suddenly decides to divorce, they are more likely to choose joint custody. Its principle is that neither parent pays anyone anything; there is no alimony, no financial strife. The point to note here is that joint custody says that the father’s rights are equal to the mother’s. However, the quality of this relationship is not taken into account. As a result, it is essential to have mechanisms to prevent arbitrary behavior on the part of irresponsible parents. Guaranteeing fathers’ rights to joint custody means having a corresponding obligation to care for the child in a dignified manner.
The modern judicial environment bears the imprint of its original social class. In this model, the father provides for the family while the mother takes care of the children. This paradigm emerged during the Industrial Revolution, replacing the traditional rural patriarchy. This understanding of the modern family is questionable because it relies primarily on a number of old clichés. The call for an expanded role for fathers in children’s lives should certainly be accompanied by a more frequent award of custody rights to fathers.
Joint custody may be established between the parents by mutual agreement only if such custody does not have a deleterious effect on the children. Consequently, joint custody should never be signed in a situation of disagreement or conflict. A conflict with the father should be settled, and in addition, children should always be listened to at any age. As has already been noted, it is imperative to follow the principle of respecting the interests of the children. It is unacceptable to take actions that would go against their needs, which means that it is also unacceptable to punish them by forcing them to spend more time with their father.
To sum up, in today’s world, prejudice against fathers persists when it comes to custody decisions. However, any father can obtain custody of his child, either primary or joint custody. Furthermore, this process takes place regardless of the father’s marital status. It is essential to contact the top child custody attorneys in their jurisdiction. They will explain in detail all of the factors that the courts consider when it comes to finding the best way to resolve a custody dispute. Only a complete rethinking of people’s attitudes can change the situation regarding discrimination against fathers in the context of custody arrangements. It also requires a transformation of judicial and state institutions, which is impossible without political will.
Agesha, Nigussie. “Legal and Practical Aspects of Child Custody, Visitation and Maintenance: A Case Study in SNNP Regional State.” Mizan Law Review, vol. 11, no. 7, 2017, pp. 275-303.
Dadds, Mark R., et al. “A Benchmarking Study of Father Involvement in Australian Child Mental Health Services.” PLOS One, vol. 13, no. 8, 2018, pp. 1-11.
Kilawan-Narine, Aminta. “The Importance of Fatherhood,” The West Indian, 2018. Web.
Palmer, Zachary D., and Mangala Subramaniam. “Abstract Egalitarianism and Men as Victims: Strategic Choice of Frames by Men’s Rights Organizations.” International Social Science Journal, vol. 67, no. 225-226, 2017, pp. 97-108.
Wojnicka, Katarzyna. “Sex and the Fieldwork: Gender, Sexuality, Nationality, and Social Class in Research on European (Heterosexual) Men.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods, vol. 19, 2020, pp. 1-10.