Two studies show the public favors equal custody

Two recent studies found a difference between how the public is in favor of child custody arrangements and how the public believes the courts typically decide, which some say may account for the belief that the court system is slanted in favor of mothers.

According to the study’s findings, many are in favor of joint custody equally split between two parents, even though in most situations this is not the norm and typically only done if both parents agree.

In one university study participants were polled on how they believed time with children should be divided between two parents after a divorce. From that it was determined that the majority believe in equal time – 50 percent with mom and 50 percent with dad – even in situations where there was a high level of conflict between the two parents.

In addition to the polling, survey participants were also put in hypothetical situations on how they would judge custody cases where the father provided most of the child care before the divorce, the mother provided most of the child care before the divorce and where the responsibilities of care were evenly split before the divorce.

In all three of these hypothetical situations, survey respondents still tended to prefer equal custody.

According to the lead author, the public opinion on how custody arrangements should be made in relation to their view on how these decisions typically are made, could account for past findings where it was found that the current court system is in favor of mothers.

In addition, the same lead author said that the court system needs to take the “widespread opposition to the current standards” into consideration – and in situations where the custody is not evenly split – the courts need to be more active in justifying their decisions to the public.

Of course, while these studies suggests that public opinion and many of the courts throughout the country are in opposition, it is still important to remember that in Missouri the court system has come a long way in protecting fathers’ rights, and that even though it may be an uphill battle it is still more than possible for a father to be awarded not only joint custody, but in some cases primary custody.

Source: PsychCentral, “Public Support Rising for Joint Custody,” Rick Nauert, 3 May 2011

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