December 22, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The anti-shared parenting crowd has really reached a new low with this short piece by Joan Meier (Washington Post, 12/15/17). Meier’s an intelligent person, so she clearly must know better, but her article gives no indication that she does. This one’s somewhere out in space, doubtless in a galaxy far, far away. I haven’t seen these claims, well, possibly ever. Her article is desperation writ large.
Meier’s first claim, astonishingly enough, is that fathers get primary/sole custody of children not only more often than do mothers, but much more often. No really, that’s what she claims.
The reality is that fathers have been winning far more than mothers for decades and that joint custody or shared parenting is already the overwhelming norm in state family courts.
Her factual backup for either of those claims? For the first, she reaches back to unnamed studies in “the 80s” that found fathers routinely winning custody, in one study 94% of the time. It’s true that the anti-dad crowd back then stooped to some pretty dishonest means to justify their claims, but the long-debunked notion that all dads have to do is ask for it and they get custody is so much nonsense and known to be so for a long, long time.
The most responsibly-done study back then was by Macoby and Mnookin in 1992. It found that, when mothers requested sole or primary custody, courts gave it to them in 60% of cases. When fathers requested the same, they succeeded 18% of the time.
Meanwhile, what does Meier do with the huge dataset maintained and updated every two years by the United States Bureau of the Census? She ignores it completely, for what should be obvious reasons. From 1993 to 2013, primary maternal custody has run between 82% and 84%.
What does she do with the data compiled on behalf of the State of Nebraska by Michael Saini in 2013? Meier ignores those too. There, in all cases in which either sole or primary custody was ordered for one parent or the other, mothers received one or the other 84% of the time and fathers 16% of the time.
The data compiled by Leading Women for Shared Parenting regarding North Dakota were similarly ignored by Meier in favor of dicey studies done 30+ years ago. It found that judges award sole or primary custody to mothers in 47.1% of cases and fathers in 9%.
Dr. Phillip Greenspun’s study of Massachusetts custody cases? Nope, nothing from Meier on that either. He found that, in sole and primary custody cases, mothers won 91% of the time.
What about researchers Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen’s finding, after reviewing some 40,000 cases in four different states that mothers file for 70% of divorces and they do so because they know to a virtual certainty that they’ll get custody? Not a peep out of Meier.
What about the fact that 90% of parents paying child support are fathers? That would seem pretty unlikely if fathers are the ones getting custody, right? Right. That’s why that fact too went unmentioned by Meier.
Then there are the multiple studies demonstrating strong pro-mother/anti-father bias on the part of family court judges. How is it that judges many of whom candidly admit to that bias give the lion’s share of custody to fathers? Meier’s silent on that subject too.
All of that and so much more escaped mention by Meier. Clearly, she’s got snake oil to peddle and telling the truth about what’s in it isn’t her stock in trade. Just remember, the idea that fathers don’t win custody the overwhelming majority of the time is a “myth” according to Meier. Really.
Skeptics might ask why, if fathers are making out like bandits in custody matters, so many people buy the notion that they aren’t. Ah, but Meier has the answer:
Because it ensures that courts will continue to believe that preferring fathers furthers equality. And because it gives fathers accused of abuse the ultimate weapon: the claim that resistant mothers are just vengeful ex-wives.
Silly me. Why didn’t I think of that? It’s so obvious. You see, courts don’t know what they do regarding custody. They think they’re giving custody to mothers most of the time when in fact they aren’t. That misguided notion means that they have to stop giving custody to mothers, which they aren’t doing in the first place and start giving it to men which they’re already doing. And all of that is kept secret from them, or, in Meier’s language, courts “continue to believe that preferring fathers furthers equality.” They believe they’re doing one thing when in fact they’re doing another. Got it?
More on this tomorrow.
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