Child Custody Changes

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Suzanne Riss, editor-in-chief of Working Mother Magazine, talks about the trend to award primary custody to stay-at-home dads, rather than working mothers.


Suzanne Riss

Comments [10]

Anne from Long Island

When my children were small, my ex-husband had fled the state, got a Texas divorce and began sending the family court judge in New York hate mail about me in an attempt to gain custody. He actually wrote to the judge that because I was working as a single mother (to support my children), he was better able to care for the children because he was remarried. I thank God for that family court judge because he sent me a copy of my ex-husband's letter and urged me to file a petition in his court to protect my rights. When he got my ex-husband in court he told him(after speaking to my children) that his new wife was treating the children badly and he had better do something to correct the situation. The judge would have no part of my exe's campaign to take away their mother. He put him in his place and bent over backward to protect my relationship with my children. What kind of person would penalize a mother for supporting her children by taking away her custody, especially when the dads are not supporting their children? Sometimes a father will sue for custody not because they want the responsibility of fatherhood, but because it is a way to hurt their ex-wife. After his hate campaign failed, my ex would go years without even calling the children.

Nov. 17 2009 11:32 AM
Chris O'Sullivan from NYC

Incorrect information. I am a researcher who focuses on custody in domestic violence cases. In New York State, joint custody is not a legal option, but it is effected by splitting or sharing legal custody and giving one parent residential custody but giving the other visitation that amounts to 50% of the time. Your expert is incorrect in that research does NOT show that joint custody is best for children. That research is very old, and that conclusion was revised by the authors as they followed the children over time. Not exposing the children to ongoing conflict comes first. Also, even for harmonious separations, what is best for children is one stable and primary home, one set of rules, one bed. Visitation with the other parent is helpful if things are good, but it is the quality of the relationship rather than the amount of time that is best for the child. The criterion is the best interest of the child, not the non-custodial parent.

Nov. 17 2009 11:30 AM
Martha Hoffman

Comments have lost the subtlety of the statistics - it's 50% of fathers who SEEK custody, not 50% of dads who HAVE custody

Nov. 17 2009 11:25 AM
robert kline from manhattan

"Trapped at home dad". That's the correct term.

Nov. 17 2009 11:19 AM

The NY Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) law turned 20 this year (passed NY legislation in 1989). My husband was sued by the mother of his teenager for child support, despite having shared custudy/finances for over a dozen years (the family separated when the son was 3 and the parents were never married). The son has grown up living 50% of the time with each parent. NY does not recognize joint custody. Because he made more money, he was designated the "non-custodial parent" and was ordered to pay child support to her until the son is 21. This is a very faulty law and needs to be looked at immediately in light of new family situations.

Nov. 17 2009 11:13 AM
zen from south salem

So if todays working mom is spending as much time with the child as a fifties stay at home mom, then the working mom must be keeping the child up later !!! Sleep is incredibly important to children and therefore a mother who keeps her children up late is not doing the child any good.

Nov. 17 2009 11:12 AM
Kate Steinberg from Park Slope

As a work-at-home mother (married) I'm always interested in these types of stories, BUT I have to say that WORKING MOTHER has ABSOLUTELY NO CREDIBILITY with me. A few years ago, when I worked for a large Fortune 500 company, Working Mother listed it as one of the top companies for working mothers. Having been a working mother at the company for 7 years or so, I saw virtually no benefits to working mothers that were officially offered by the company (I could go into details) and when I wrote to the magazine to ask how they determined this list, they said they TALKED TO EXECUTIVES AT THE COMPANIES!!! Simply, then, a PR-generated list. They didn't poll employees! THAT IS NOT JOURNALISM! I wouldn't trust anything this magazine and its editors say ever since then. Completely bogus.
Thank you for letting me vent.

Nov. 17 2009 11:12 AM
maryann Stewart from nyc

is she crazy? as a product of the 1950's I can tell you mothers were at home - I was someone who had to work after my child was born - there's a huge difference when you are able to be at home - she can not say the time spent is the same - it's not.

Nov. 17 2009 11:12 AM
Sami from Westport, CT

The word "Fit" is the key. I firmly beleive there are MANY men that are more "fit" then women to care for their children (working or not) and that they are often punished by the system and society if they take on the rolls traditionally held by the mother. If they are stay at home dads they find it harder to get back into the workforce and have to justify their "at home" status and society automatically boxes them out of the primary care roll. My Ex can't boil water and brush my daughter's hair, naturally I have primary custody. My best friend is a MUCH better care giver than his Ex and fought them split custody when he should have primary due to the mother's irratic (and sometimes damaging) behavior.

Nov. 17 2009 11:09 AM
Isaac from prospect heights

I am somebody who went through the awful machinations of the legal process in New York State. I was not fighting for custody because I was told by every lawyer not to bother. All I was hoping for was greater visitation and the mother felt threatened by the potential that this might affect the Child Support aspect of the settlement. Child Support (CSSA) and Child Custody are linked in New York State.
It was explained by many legal experts, that the current family/divorce laws established in the late 70s and early 80s were set in a climate that wanted to correct a historical tendency that did not protect women and their children. Essentially, previous to the 1980's if a woman left, even an abusive spouse, it was extremely difficult for her to collect child support. With a fairly conservative coalition of anti-welfare/anti-divorce New York Legislators who did not want more women on the welfare/General Assistance while making divorce financially punitive, these laws, which on the surface which protects women and their children, yet were established with the poor out-dated assumptions that women generally did not have careers (able to stay at home with the kids) or had equitable salaries (regretfully still true) or generally made better parents.

Nov. 17 2009 10:32 AM

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