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Child Custody

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Child Custody

Child custody is the care control and maintenance of a child which may be awarded by the court to one of the parents of the child (Jasper 2). Child custody issues affect our families in the United States every day. In family law, child custody is viewed as primary care of a minor (Goldstein 174). Child custody trends view one parent better than the opposing parent. Child custody is significant because of the trauma it can cause to families. Not only are parents and children affected by this but social problems bloom in later years with divorced families who go through typical child custody battles (Kalter 34). In fact, minors are affected the most when they have to choose between both parents. Child custody trends involve an agreement between two parents or guardians as to when the non-custodial parent gets to see the minor in these cases. Child custody is one of the most difficult and painful tasks a judge is asked to undertake. Many times parents’ fight over which parent the child can live with. This overall can determine who gets awarded custody of the minor. Often the courts have viewed the mother as the parent who is more capable of caring for the child. Fathers most of the time go unheard, and settle with custody agreements that overall hurt the child and father relationship because the visits with father have been shortened in length. The implications of fathers not having custody of their children go far beyond just having limited access. Not having custody actually means that a noncustodial parent is no longer the "legal" parent or guardian. This means that a noncustodial parent has absolutely no say in any major decisions regarding their children's upbringing which includes issues pertaining to their education, medical care and religious decisions. It also means that the custodial parent is free to relocate without having to inform the other parent. In cases where the custodial parent is reasonable and understanding of the role the noncustodial parent plays in the children's lives, these limitations may not prove to be critical. However, in many other cases, noncustodial parents may find themselves at a terrible disadvantage. In fact, many noncustodial parents who find themselves at the mercy of an unreasonable and mean ex-spouse may find themselves basically cut out of their children's lives forever. This often means that the child is left without the gift of being raised in a healthy environment with both biological parents. In the most extreme cases, a noncustodial parent may never see their child again. Fathers in the United States are being faced with major custody trends such as this one every day. “About ten percent of all children live in step family atmospheres” (Kalter 254). Of these children in stepfamilies, eighty-six percent live with their biological mother and stepfather; fourteen percent live with their biological father and stepmother (Knox 398). Children often suffer from a variety of issues when being raised in any other family other than their nuclear family. Nuclear families have been known to include a biological mother and a biological father in the same household. Often children are faced with the reality of having to adjust to their new families when put in new homes with new parents. In most cases step-siblings or step-parents are introduced and children must adapt to their new lifestyle. “The biggest source of problems for kids in stepfamilies is parental conflict left over from the first marriage” (Knox 32). The nuclear family is thought of as the "traditional family," with two parents and siblings. However, "traditional" does not mean "simple." Often children are affected by the issues of separation. Evidently if divorce or separation occurs it is because of differences in a relationship. The last that children want to see is battles between both biological parents. Studies have been conducted and it is a proven fact that separation after a child is not what affects the children, it’s the battles that the children see and hear, that’s what can mentally harm them (Knox 33). The children are put in a position were they feel that they must choose one over the other, making it a very difficult decision for children. These children often find it hard to be open to their parents. “No one wins-the child feels bad for abandoning a loving parent, the parent who has been tossed aside feels deprived of the opportunity for a close parent-child relationship, and the custodial parent runs the risk that the children, as adults, may resent being prevented from developing or continuing a relationship with the other parent” (Knox 398). This is why indeed much pain and emotion is faced in custody battles. Presently, the divorce rates are increasing at an astounding rate, and close to fifty percent of children are growing up in a single parent environment. Children need their parents in order for them to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally. If the bond between the parent and the child is broken, negative consequences can be a result and can be traumatic for a child (Price 68). Courts must make sure that children are being placed in the correct care during the correct period. Parents must always stick together for the sake of themselves and their children. “Courts are often biased against divorced men who want custody of their children” (Knox 50). This is a major problem in the United States; trends show that it’s harder for fathers to gain custody of their children than the mother. Gender role socialization plays a major role in child custody cases. Men are often viewed as insensitive, strong, and more independent than women. Women, on the other hand, are known to be caring, nurturing and more expressive over emotions. Is this a true factor can women and men in society be seen as a whole according to there gender roles? Its gender roles that affect today’s social world. Often we tend to judge by symbols and words that are spoken rather than judging for what an individual does for the minor. Many men are being overlooked as being major caretakers in society, can it be due to their lack of communication skills. According to Knox, “because divorced fathers are typically regarded as career-focused and uninvolved in child care, some are regulated to seeing their children on a limited basis, such as every other weekend or four evenings a month” (Knox 50). It is really important to focus on leaving gender roles out when going through a child custody case. Much of how child custody is determined is based on gender roles. Garska vs. McCoy finds that the role preference had been designed to assure that care giving is what would determine who would be given custody of a minor (Goldstein 190). Courts continue to look at certain roles that one plays as ways of determining in which home a child will be placed. In the United States there is a growing number of working fathers who battle for more custody of their children. However, because of guidelines as the one mentioned, courts fail to see that a working male parent can be a nurturing individuals to their children. In the law of the best interests of the child it was determined that caring and nurturing duties of a parent include preparation of meals, bathing, grooming and dressing, purchasing clothing, medical care including nursing and visits to the doctor, arranging social interaction, arranging babysitters, putting a child to bed, educating, and teaching elementary skills were traits that can determine custody of a child (Benson 17). In today’s world many men are in the work force and choose to manage and care for their children, but, because society has painted a picture that a working man can’t do all of the above there are more cases where custody is given to the mother. Although society tends to equate a man’s identity with his occupational role, does this mean man should be denied custody of his children? (Connie 49) Men and women can provide for a child equally all the necessities needed to care and nurture a child. Numbers continue to rise for men being in the work field; therefore men are losing visits with their children. In the 1960’s the law of child custody set forth the, best interest of the child standards. This law stated that custody of a child be determined only in the “best interest of the child”. This new law took away the right of the mother to keep custody solely because of maternal preference. Fathers during this time were given a better chance of obtaining their children perhaps more than the mother (Youngerman 207). According to the Law of Child Custody, “Although there have been rapid advances towards fair and equal determination of custody between fathers and mothers, it should be noted that many judges still retain the notion that mothers are better caretakers of young children” (Jasper 2). Actions in the United States should limit the ways that children are being placed in custodial homes by implementing strict rules and regulations against gender role socialization. It clearly states by research that because of the role of a mother, men are being overlooked, making them less fatherly. Equality should be used in court settings in order to determine the custody of children. Many times mothers are viewed as bigger role models for their children simply because it’s the way society symbolizes them, without seeing the bigger picture that perhaps the father is more motherly and nurturing as a parent. Care and nurture should not be based on standards of male or female role socialization. Fathers are looked at more for their negative social views in the United States. Negative Consequences of a male role socialization is viewed as limited emotional expression, this consequence alone deprives them of less time with their children; this does not mean that they are not primary caregivers (Knox 49). Research should be conducted as to how close men want to be with their children and how much they care for them. This can open answers to the most sought questions that lead the social world and judges to making decisions based on traditional roles men are known to have. Ethnography’s can be made to see the behavior men as fathers have with their children, along with the interviewing of fathers in the United States. The way the social world thinks affects behavior in the United States daily. Although these issues are occurring often the law states, “Every court in California has a lawyer that will help you with family law problems for free. These lawyers are called family law facilitators” (California Courts). The future may change society’s way of thinking against men and their children, but this perhaps may lead to another change in role socialization. Future concerns may be that the social world may view things according to research study. Problems that research study may fall into are forbid misinterpretation, its easy for society to misinterpret work that they see, which may change the views that society has on child custody. It’s important to stay focused on the fact the families in the United States are broken apart on a daily basis, and when it occurs children are hurt day after day because there is no equality in male and female roles. Men can do anything women can, and, women can do anything men can do. When it comes to raising their children it should be equal no individual should get sole custody of children unless they are in danger. The rights of fathers has increased and changed for the better over time, but there is still a long way to go before there is real parity between mother’s and father’s rights. Women still tend to win in the custody battleground. Of course, the winners should be the children. Not everyone will be happy in these situations nor will they feel they have been treated fairly as to visitation, custody, or support payments. (Child custody) The purpose of a custody agreement is to reach an understanding between two parents on how to raise and care for a minor keeping both parents sharing the responsibilities and maintaining involvement in the everyday life of the child. For custody agreements to work it is essential that both parents be flexible, and understanding. It is important to make every attempt to encourage and respect the relationship of the child and the other parent. Parents both should be equal. Both should keep in mind the sake of the child. Far too often during custody battles parents forget that children are involved. During the process of child custody the law takes the hands of parents and tries to come to agreements all for the best. Far too often these cases extend to nasty battles between angry individuals. A lot of time is spent in court which results in loss of school, activities and work. Issues will always remain when looking into these cases. One as a citizen must realize that during time of separation when parents refuse to get along there is a child involved and the child should not be placed in the middle of having to feel forced to making a decision regarding their well being. We as Americans should enforce laws that help keep children away from having to be faced with the issues in general. Children are faced with many issues in society alone. We should view the parent that receives custody as the correct parent for their actions rather than continuing to look at the typical traits that are seen in a mother and a father. Technically speaking a single parent can often play an important role in a minor’s life as both a mother and loving father. No child should be left short a mother and a father due to lack of communication or simply for being selfish. Children hurt often because relationships are broken with one parent. Differences can be made by looking from the perspective of the tender minor.

Works Cited

Bensen, Robert, ed. Children of the Dragonfly. Tucson: Arizona, 2001.
Child Custody and Family Law. The Custody Library. 2010. 28 April 2010 < http://childcustodyguide.com/>.
Connie, Jon. Father’s Rights. New York: Walker, 1989.
Goldstein, Sonja. The Best Interests of the Child: The Least Detrimental Alternative. New York: Free, 1996.
Kalter, Neil. Growing Up With Divorce: Helping Your Child Avoid Immediate and Later Emotional Problems. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1990.
Katz, Sanford. When Parents Fail: The Law’s Response to Family Breakdown. Boston: Beacon, 1971.
Knox, David. Choices in Relationships: An Introduction to Marriage and the Family. Belmont: Thomson, 2005.
Price, Elizabeth. Divorce and Teens: When a Family Splits Apart. New Jersey: Enslow, 2004.
Stahl, Phillip. Parenting After Divorce: A Guide to Resolving Conflicts and Meeting Your Children’s Needs. N.P.: Impact, 2000.
United States. California Courts. Self Help Center: Child, Spousal, & Partner Support. 2010. 28 April 2010 .
Youngerman, Barry. The Truth About Divorce. Ed. Mark J. Kittleson. New York: Facts on File, 2005.…...

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