“Father’s Day in divorce court” – that sounds almost as strange as “Christmas Day in divorce court.” At one time, not that long ago, there was a presumption that mothers received custody and that fathers could “visit” with their children every so often – perhaps every other weekend and the occasional weeknight. What a strange concept: especially if one looks at the situation from the viewpoint of the children who were used to being with both parents every day, seven days a week.
As time has passed, it seems that the courts have realized that fathers are just as important to children as their mothers are. Some people may not like to hear this, but it’s true. Think of all the children you may have known who had “absent” fathers and what those children felt and believed about their father’s absence: their father wasn’t around, he didn’t seem to want to be around, so there must be something wrong with them (the children). Some of these fathers may have felt as though they were not important in the eyes of society and the courts. Some of these fathers may have felt as if they had been “forced away” from their children – their contributions discounted and confined to “just a check each month.”
Father’s Day in Divorce Court: How Custody Laws Have Changed in a Positive Way for Fathers
As time has gone on, the importance of a father’s role in his child’s life has been better understood, and courts have been enforcing the right for a child to be with his/her father.
Hopefully, this trend will continue. We’ve gone from “sole custody mom” and evolved into a “shared parenting with both parents in the children’s lives” – sometimes equally in the children’s lives. Hopefully, shared parenting should mirror how things were before the divorce – before things got “bad.”
The courts have learned to look at parenting time more from the standpoint of the children – through the children’s eyes – which is how it should be done. No family court should look at things from the standpoint of “fathers’ rights” or “mothers’ rights” but through the eyes of the children instead.
So, when it is Father’s Day (which, by the way, is never on a court day), we should think about fathers who may not be with their children on this holiday, but we should think in terms of how that affects their children.
Children are Not Divisible Assets!
If you are planning to negotiate time for your children to be with you and to be with the other parent, please keep these concepts in mind and do not think of the children as “divisible” assets.
Please try to see the future through the eyes of the children. Taking this viewpoint will give you a whole new way of seeing what is best for the children for their future. The other parent may do things you do not like – but the children still love him/her. The other parent is loved by your children and it hurts them to hear you say negative things about that parent or to have you act as though that parent is not capable of caring for them or that parent is not helping. It hurts children to hear that a parent is not paying his/her child support (and the children sometimes wonder if the parent who is not paying has enough money to even buy food).
I recently attended the funeral of my best friend. His children talked about how much they loved him and what he had taught them along the way in life. His stepchildren also talked about how much they loved him and what he had taught them along the way in life. He had taught them things their mothers would not have taught them since he had interests and hobbies that were not the same as the mothers’. I am sure that the mothers taught these children things that my friend would never or could never have taught them. But the important thing is that these children had a father in their lives. Right?
William Geary is a family lawyer who has been practicing since 1979. He is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, and also is a practicing member of the Ohio bar.