In child custody cases throughout America and in divorce cases, the preferred method in most states is that parents are awarded custody is Joint-Legal Custody. With Joint-Legal Custody, both parents have access to school records, medical records and the decision making process of the child’s life, however this is not exactly a reality for the non-custodial parent who is usually the father.
Often, fathers are left out of the decision making process and are left with whatever the custodial parent decided and many times this is hard if not impossible to undue. Fathers are often restricted in how often they see their children and sometimes judges will not even hear fathers in their requests for more parenting time outside of the “every other weekend” standard, which is not fair. I would not want to see my kids on only alternate weekends, why should other fathers? They should not.
It is my belief in my heart that if both parents are capable of caring for the children, that the father should be able to have as close to 50% parenting time as possible especially if the parties live in close proximity to each other. As a father and as a lawyer, I truly believe there is no legitimate excuse to keep a father away from his children except for every other weekend. No excuse.
One way to actually accomplish this is with cooperation. If both parties act like children or disrespect each other, it is very hard to have true joint custody/shared residential custody. You achieve more with honey than with vinegar. I truly understand that sometimes the tension is too great for cooperation but even then, the father should push for shared parenting time. A child is a person’s greatest asset by far and if a person does not realize this, he or she should not have custody to begin with.
The good news is that the Family Law Bench in America is becoming more and more diverse. Men and women of all colors are on the bench and from the new generation where both men and women work, both fathers and mothers and heavily involved in raising their children. This perspective helps a non-custodial parent achieve better results but it is never certain, competent counsel is highly effective.
Fathers and mothers who are non-custodial parents who are responsible people deserve true joint custody not the fallacy that joint custody has become today.