The determination of custody can be the most important decision that is made in a divorce. It dictates the living arrangement of the children and which parent they will spend the most time with. It also governs the rights and responsibilities of each parent as it concerns the children. Such an arrangement should be made with the best interests of the children at the forefront, but traditionally, there has been a preference towards granting physical custody to the mother, at the expense of the father's rights.
An advocacy group, composes mostly of women, is promoting the concept of equally shared parenting. The have found that rather than awarding equal custody to both parents, one of the parents, typically fathers, are awarded visitation rights. Many times the other parent is awarded sole physical custody of the children. The group feels that equal custody arrangements are what is best for children, but opponents of the idea feel that every divorce is different and applying such an arrangement may not fit the circumstances of many cases.
A typical custody arrangement involves the children living primarily with one of the parents, the custodial parent, while the other parent, the non-custodial parent, retains visitation rights and legal custody. Although legal custody allows the non-custodial parent to have a say in decisions regarding the health care, religion and education of the children, they do not get to spend the same amount of time with them. Historically, there has been a bias towards having the children live with the mother, with the father retaining visitation rights.
The advocacy group in this case is proposing to grant each parent an equal amount of time with children and to remove any gender bias that may have existed towards mothers. The interesting aspect of the group is that it is made up mostly of women, even though it is promoting that fathers are granted more time with their children than they have traditionally been provided.
Source: Star Tribune, "Rosenblum: Divorced dads get big gift from fired-up moms," Gail Rosenblum, June 8, 2013