Thursday

The APA on Joint Custody

American Psychological Association, Report to the U.S. Commission on Child and Family Welfare, June 14, 1995.

This report "summarizes and evaluates the major research concerning joint custody and its impact on children's welfare." The report concludes that "The research reviewed supports the conclusion that joint custody is associated with certain favorable outcomes for children including father involvement, best interest of the child for adjustment outcomes, child support, reduced relitigation costs, and sometimes reduced parental conflict." The APA also noted that "The need for improved policy to reduce the present adversarial approach that has resulted in primarily sole maternal custody, limited father involvement and maladjustment of both children and parents is critical. Increased mediation, joint custody, and parent education are supported for this policy."
Whether in a political position statement or a research article, to say there are "certain favorable outcomes" is a way of ignoring the negatives. To say that joint custody "is associated with" reduced parent conflict is to ignore that more amicable parents would be more likely to voluntarily choose this arrangement (whereas the dataset of sole custody homes would include, among others, most of the families with severe abuse issues.) To say that joint custody "increases father involvement" is circular -- more time equals more time -- and to ignore that this is not an important factor in child adjustment.

After reviewing all introduced research data and testimony, the U.S. Commission came out against a presumption for joint custody.
The numerous father's rights websites that reiterate quotes from the unasked-for dissenting "minority report" of the Commission without mentioning the majority report and the Commission's actual findings are nothing short of fraudulent. (For these reports, see the bottom of Trish Wilson index page.)

"Members of the Children's Rights Council, including Mr. Kuhn and John Guidubaldi, testified at hearings for "Parenting Our Children: In the Best Interest of the Nation." [A Report to the President and Congress. Submitted by the U. S. Commission on Child and Family Welfare, September, 1996] They proposed the rebuttable presumption for both legal and physical custody.

"Their recommendations, as well as recommendations made by other fathers' rights supporters, were rejected by the Commission.

"The Majority Report heard testimony that rightly invalidated joint custody, including '...Gerald Nissenbaum, President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, who recommended that there be no presumption of any form of custody. Judith Wallerstein, Founder and Senior Consultant at the Center for the Family in Transition, told the Commission that she has seen no evidence that any particular form of custody was uniformly helpful to the post-divorce adjustment of children. Sally Brush, Director of the Beech Acres' Aring Institute, cautioned the Commission to avoid making general assumptions about the appropriateness of particular custody and visitation arrangements in favor of arrangements that are responsive to the circumstances of individual cases. Katherine Bartlett, Professor of Law at Duke University, agreed that decisions about how children are to be raised following a divorce should be tailored to individual situations.'"

-- Trish Wilson's article and documents; also see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c105:H.CON.RES.182.IH: proposed Congressional Resolution on Child Custody, 1997



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