In the mid-1990s when I began as a child custody attorney and built up my expertise, I wrote of a moment that I summarized as “who gave her the right?”
What I meant was mothers often assumed they were the only parent entitled to child custody. Our culture suggests that fathers allow mothers to act in this manner by not supporting children or being present in their lives. In this mindset, the child’s life is decided solely by the mother taking legal rights she doesn’t necessarily have without a single piece of evidence presented in the court.
Does Mother Know Best?
Early on, I worked a case that stuck with me and was one of my first big victories in a child custody case. In that case, the mother took off with the child and moved 50 miles away. She told the father he could see his infant son every other weekend. In her mind, that was the way it was going to be.
Dad retained me, and no, that was not the way it would be. In the end, mom became the weekend parent and dad, to this day, has primary physical custody. The injustice, in this case, was real and the fight against it had real-world implications on the father and the child.
The Science Has Caught Up
Over the years, many studies have examined how children do in custody arrangements with one primary parent and overnight visits with the other. Three, four, or five days per month tend to be the standard visitation plan in these cases. It’s the sort of plan that mothers take for granted. Fathers find themselves having to fight like wolverines to prove they’re anything more than a paycheck for their children.
As is often the case, the initial scientific studies weren’t entirely accurate. They concluded that babies and children were better in the sole custody of their mother. Often that meant they barely saw their father. This became gospel in the courts. It was the case when I started fighting in child custody cases.
However, out of 60 studies done since that time, the findings were very different. Most were much larger studies that adjusted for income, conflict between parents, educational levels, domestic violence and more.
Not a single study found that children in the sole legal custody of one parent fared better than children in a joint physical custody arrangement.
Just the opposite was often the case. The overwhelming clinical evidence of peer-reviewed studies found that children in joint physical custody arrangements do better. This means arrangements where the children spend at least 35% of the time with the non-custodial parent up to 50/50 splits. These children do far better than those in sole physical custody arrangements.
An Uphill Battle
Why is it still so difficult for men to get joint physical custody of children in Georgia? The answer comes from flawed historical studies that eventually found their way into conventional thinking. More importantly, what is the solution to winning joint physical custody cases for dads?
If you want to win joint physical custody in a court system biased to give mother sole physical custody, the answer begins in the science. Bring in an expert who can correct the record. There are always exceptions that could change the outcome, even with the science put properly into a legal context. But the facts overwhelmingly show that children, including babies and infants, benefit from a joint physical custody circumstance rather than giving one parent sole physical custody.
Call Shaw Law Today
Family law is all we do at the Shaw Law Firm, including the fight for parents who want to be in their children’s lives. We do this by creating persuasive cases, supported by the science, to demonstrate why joint physical custody arrangements are almost always superior to giving one parent sole physical custody and marginalizing the other parent.
Give us a call, and we will be happy to discuss joint physical custody with you. We can also discuss other family law, child custody, legitimation and paternity, and divorce issues.