F.A.C.T.Information: Fathering
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We wanted to provide some information on divorce and the consequences of divorce. Frankly, divorce is one of those processes where it is rare for any of those personally involved — husband, wife, children and relatives — to ever win. In most cases they lose big. The "winners" are the carrion feeders: the judicial system, the bureaucrats, the lawyers, the assessors, the social workers, the psychologists, the "support" industry.

Now, having said bad things about lawyers in one breath, here is an important document from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Children's Bill of Rights when Parents are Not Together. It would do the courts, legal profession, legislators and bureaucrats a lot of good if they would actually read this. This was originally published on the AAML website at http://www.aaml.org/newpage12.htm but new seems to be at http://www.aaml.org/billrts.htm.

Civitas: the Institute for the Study of Civil Society was founded in the UK to "deepen public understanding of the legal, institutional and moral framework that makes a free and democratic society possible." They have done some excellent work about how families are being destroyed and the toll that is taking on children and society. They have produced an excellent study of the impact of the "failed experiment" of fatherless families in and excellent study, available in PDF format, entitled Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family. This is a great, and true, read. I would suggest it to every one. The study, and more very good material is available from Civitas's website at http://www.civitas.org.uk.

In PDF format, Some New Data Suggesting That Current Legal Rules May Not Serve the Interests of Children Whose Parents Relocate After Divorce by Sanford L. Braver, Ira Mark Ellman, and William V. Fabricius which has been revised and resubmitted May 21, 2002 to the Journal of Family Psychology. This study shows quite definitely that the interests of the child are different than the interests of a custodial parent when mobility is the issue. Included in here are cases where one parent, usually the father it seems, is driven away by the other parent.

The PDF formatted, Child Adjustment in Joint-Custody Versus Sole-Custody Arrangements: A Meta-Analytic Review by Robert Bauserman, Journal of Family Psychology (2002), Vol. 16, No. 1, 91–102 is an important study. It shows that children who have meaningful contact with both parents are significantly (statistically speaking) better off due to the lack of the damage done to children who lose contact with their father through divorce and the actions and inactions of the courts. Although there is only small numbers of sole parental custody cases in the study, it does imdicate that that joint custody is superior there too. Children do need both parents active and part of their lives. This is a journal of the American Psychological Association, so there is some soft-pedalling of the result although the anti-family groups will likely trot out the old myths again, although the study disproves them. The APA has been wonderful in this case and made the paper available to the public at http://www.apa.org/journals/fam/press_releases/march_2002/fam16191.pdf (which is where our link took you). The abstract is below, but I would note that in states were joint custody is really the default decision, conflict between parties has always been lower since there is no gain, and only loss, by a party creating conflict.

The author meta-analyzed studies comparing child adjustment in joint physical or joint legal custody with sole-custody settings, including comparisons with paternal custody and intact families where possible. Children in joint physical or legal custody were better adjusted than children in sole-custody settings, but no different from those in intact families. More positive adjustment of joint-custody children held for separate comparisons of general adjustment, family relationships, self-esteem, emotional and behavioral adjustment, and divorce-specific adjustment. Joint-custody parents reported less current and past conflict than did sole-custody parents, but this did not explain the better adjustment of joint-custody children. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that joint custody can be advantageous for children in some cases, possibly by facilitating ongoing positive involvement with both parents.

In PDF format, Explaining the Rise in Youth Suicide by David M. Cutler, Edward L. Glaeser, and Karen E. Norberg of Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Discussion Paper Number 1917 from March 2001. This article is an interesting study of youth suicide in the US. I would note that while it is incorrect in the decreasing suicide rates of adult males, it finds that "the rise in youth suicide over time, the most important explanatory variable is the increased share of youths living in homes with a divorced parent." Yes, once again it is clear that divorce is NOT in the best interests of the children. This paper are also available through http://papers.ssrn.com/paper.taf?abstract_id=263440 or http://post.economics.harvard.edu/hier/2000papers/2000list.html.

In PDF format, Social Science Research on Family Dissolution: What It Shows and How It Might Be of Interest to Family Law Reformers by Stephen J. Bahr from a presentation at the conference, “The ALI Family Dissolution Principles: Blueprint to Strengthen or to Deconstruct American Families?”, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, February 1, 2001. This study talks of damage to adults (more economic hardship, higher levels of poverty, lower levels of psychological well-being, less happiness, more health problems, and a greater risk of mortality) and children (including poorer psychological adjustment, more physical health problems, poorer achievement in school, more anti-social and delinquent behaviors, higher levels of poverty, earlier sexual experinces, more problems with relationships, and more inclined to premarital parenthood) caused by divorce and the elimination of a parent. The paper encourages that REAL social cost of divorce be looked at.

Delinquent Behavior, Future Divorce or Nonmarital Childbearing, and Externalizing Behavior Among Offspring: A 14-Year Prospective Study by Robert E. Emery, Mary Waldron and Katherine M. Kitzmann. It is from The Journal of Family Psychology, December 1999 Vol. 13, No. 4, 568-579 and is available from the Journal at http://www.apa.org/journals/fam/fam134568.html. This is another study showing that children are significantly disadvantaged in never-married sole maternal custody or divorced sole-maternal custody than in intact families. In fact, the study does indicate that the damage of divorce is about the same level as never having the children involved with their father. Certainly, raising children outside of the influence of both parents is clearly detrimental to the child -- or "abusive" as that is called these days.

The PDF formatted, Custody and Couvade: The Importance of Paternal Bonding In the Law of Family Relations by Geoffrey P. Miller, from New York University School of Law, Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper Series, Working Paper 5, 1999 discusses the perceptions and reality of the involvement of fathers during pregnancy, childbirth, and early childhood.