Thursday, February 22, 2007

Father's Custody Rights

Britney Spears is just one of many celebrities who have filed for divorce over the past year, but her bizarre behavior has been splashed across the tabloids for the past six months with more regularity than any other celebrity. Her latest antics caused more headlines due to her estranged husband's emergency request for a hearing regarding the custody of the couple's two young sons. It seems that Ms. Spears has checked into yet another rehabilitation facility and this morning, the emergency hearing was canceled because the couple reportedly agreed that Mr. Federline would take care of the children while Ms. Spears sought treatment for whatever malady is currently ailing her. While these types of situations are not necessarily the norm, there are more and more mothers who may not be the best person equipped to care for children and there is a growing trend for children to be placed with the father as a result of a divorce. The question then becomes whether behaviors such as those exhibited by Ms. Spears will ultimately affect a Judge's decision regarding who should be primary custodial parent.

Prior to 1980, you rarely saw a father being awarded custody of his children outside of a finding that the mother was "unfit". Now a days, more often than not, both parties are good parents, and both want to have their children living with them on a day to day basis. What happens when both parents are equally capable of taking care of the children, but cannot agree as to who should have primary residential care of the children? What criteria do Judges use to determine who should get custody of children when there is no clear choice? I believe that there is still a bias towards awarding custody to the mother in those situations due to societal prejudices concerning who is more equipped to give children the care, guidance, love and discipline they need to become productive members of society. While I believe that more and more judges are putting away those biases and awarding custody strictly on the "best interest of the child" standard, I still believe that fathers have an uphill battle when it comes to fighting for custody of their children. Stay tuned for how the custody battle plays out between Mr. Federline and Ms. Spears.

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