Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Article: The Father's Crusade

From Susan Dominus in the NY Times magazine (no link to NY mag, plus NY Times normally charges you for articles older then a week anyway - so I put the full article in the comments section):

The traditional custody arrangement, with Mom as sole custodian and Dad demoted to weekend visitor, may have been painful, but practical, in a family with a 50's-style division of labor; but to the father who knows every Wiggle by name, the pediatrician's number by heart and how to make a bump-free ponytail, such an arrangement could be perceived as an outrage, regardless of what might be more convenient or who is the primary caretaker.

On the other hand, divorced dads still face some serious image problems, a function of well-known statistics that are hard to spin. In the United States, in the period following divorce, one study has found, close to half of all children lose contact with their fathers, with that figure rising to more than two-thirds after 10 years. Although child-support payments have crept up in recent years, in 2001 only 52 percent of divorced mothers received their full child-support payments; among women who had children out of wedlock, the number was around 32 percent. Fathers' rights groups have a tall order explaining those statistics, convincing judges -- and the country at large -- that if fathers skip town, or refuse payment, it's a function of how unfairly family courts treat them rather than the very reason that the courts treat fathers the way they do.

Essentially, we have a child welfare system created 50 years ago and a no-fault divorce system that created 30 years ago trying to cope with modern changes to family and relationships today.
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