In our society what shows that we value fathers as parents?
When it comes to child custody awards (i.e., the award of legal and/or physical custody)? Society values fathers far too little when it comes to child custody awards.
I remember as a child going camping and discovering a crane fly in the tent. It didn’t matter how many times I was told the crane fly was harmless, I was terrified of it. Even matter when the dragonfly flew away, it didn’t matter; I lived in constant fear that a crane fly would bite or sting me. I was miserable the entire trip because I was convinced of something false. When it comes to child custody awards, fathers are the proverbial crane flies.
It is far too difficult in most parts of the United States (and other parts of the world, for that matter) for a loving, engaged father—who is by every reasonable standard fit to exercise both legal and physical custody of his children—to obtain a joint equal physical custody award.
Fathers are treated as second-class parents in child custody disputes. They are presumed to be less capable, less dependable, less loving, less interested in caring for their children than mothers.
Such treatment of fathers is as destructive as it is irrational.
If a father is the primary or sole breadwinner in the family, that is a strike against him in the child custody award analysis. Court’s pay the perfunctory complement to a hard-working father, then turn around and tell him that because he works full time to care for his family, he’s unfit to exercise physical custody of his children even half the time. Granted, there are some jobs that make the exercise of joint equal physical custody impossible, but far too often court simply presume that because a father works full time he could possibly manage to exercise joint physical custody of his children effectively as well.
When a father literally begs the court simply to give him a chance to prove that he is “worthy” and capable of exercising joint equal custody of his children, I have yet to see a court grant that request. Courts deny such requests by claiming (without a scintilla of evidence, let alone verifiable proof) that if joint equal custody is so much as implemented on a brief, experimental basis and fails, it would cause children irreparable damage. With respect, that is patent nonsense, empty words, a transparently lame excuse.
Consequently, fathers are held to a standard that is essentially impossible to satisfy when all they seek is the joint equal custody of their children for the purpose of ensuring the children are reared as much as possible by two loving, fit parents. The rate at which courts deny loving, fit fathers joint equal physical custody of their children is tragically high. Such denial breaks children’s hearts, to say nothing of the fathers’ broken hearts.
This miscarriage of justice is not going unnoticed, fortunately. More and more states are passing laws recognizing and combating the blatant discrimination against fathers that legal culture has
indulged for far too long. but that’s cold comfort for the fathers and children who are still being victimized.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277