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nebraska29
The state of Iowa is passing a law that effectively promotes equal/joint 50-50 custody.

QUOTE
But beginning July 1, it will become more common in Iowa. That's the day the state institutes what some family experts are calling the country's first true shared-parenting law. It gives judges power to award joint legal and physical custody if a parent requests it. Judges who refuse must explain their reasons.

Although not everyone agrees that joint custody is best in all cases, some fathers in Britain are hoping for a law similar to Iowa's. Last Friday, nearly a thousand members of a radical fathers' group, Fathers 4 Justice, paraded through London to call attention to what they say is unfair treatment of fathers in custody issues. Members also prepared a document for Parliament calling for family-law reform. Their proposals include a presumption that parenting time will be shared 50-50.

Christian Science Monitor article.

Those who are for the bill argue that it will give fathers equal rights in terms of seeing their children, and that it will prevent mothers from using their children as weapons against fathers. Those against it believe that such arrangements do more harm than good, especially when it comes to the children themselves.

Questions for debate

1.)Is equal/joint custody a good idea? hmmm.gif

2.)Is equal/joint custody a negative thing for the kids? hmmm.gif

3.)What can be done to try and prevent children being used as pawns by one parent against another? hmmm.gif
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Victoria Silverwolf
1. As this article points out, this can be a very good idea when the parents are involved in an amiable divorce. It can also be a recipe for disaster when they are hostile to each other. The proposed law seems a little rigid to me, although I like the fact that the judge can refuse to award joint custody when reasons can be given to avoid it. All I can say is that each case is different, and must be considered individually.

2. It can be, as pointed out in this article. It seems to create problems for very young children. Older children might be better able to cope with it. Again, a lot depends on the parents.

3. I wish I knew. It's hard to force people to act decently. Education of young people in the fact that parenthood is a gigantic responsibility, which will always lead to a huge amount of stress, would be a big help. I get the feeling that people often have children because babies are cute, or because they think it will help a weak marriage, or because "everybody" has children.

Men have a very strong case to make that the mother is often automatically considered to be the primary caregiver for children. Eliminating the stereotype of the mother as the more important parent would be a good step foward.
CruisingRam
As a child of divorce, but not having to divorce the mother of my children, I think it should be enshrined in the Constitution, and take evidence beyond all doubt to change it. It should be compulsory and enforced.

The system as it stands is horrible- unless a woman walks into court drunk and naked, she wins. thumbsup.gif
Andy Mosity
QUOTE
1.)Is equal/joint custody a good idea?


Yes. In Minnesota we have a presumptive custody award system in which the mother is awarded custody of the children, unless the father can prove that he is fit to assume joint custody.

However, I agree with this statement:
QUOTE
...each case is different, and must be considered individually.


QUOTE
2.)Is equal/joint custody a negative thing for the kids?


I personally believe it is a positive thing for the kids. It encourages both parties to actively participate in parenting, instead of awarding one, and shaming the other.....However
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a lot depends on the parents.


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3.)What can be done to try and prevent children being used as pawns by one parent against another?


I don't think there will ever be a solution to this problem. It even happens in cases where the parents are married, however I believe that equal/joint custody is a step in the right direction.
nebraska29
QUOTE(CruisingRam @ Jun 30 2004, 12:47 AM)
As a child of divorce, but not having to divorce the mother of my children, I think it should be enshrined in the Constitution, and take evidence beyond all doubt to change it. It should be compulsory and enforced.

The system as it stands is horrible- unless a woman walks into court drunk and naked, she wins.  thumbsup.gif

Very good observation-you are totally correct about what it virtually takes for a woman to lose custody. Those against joint-custody worry about the welfare of the kid, so I could see why a 70-30 agreement would be ideal. I'm not sure that shipping a kid around between two parents every two days is a good thing-I think even the most dedicated parent would find that arrangement to be challenging to say the least. But yes, some form of absolute right to fathers(barring circumstances of course, i.e.-abuse, etc.) I agree though, I have a relative whose ex-wife plays all sorts of games with their children. "Billy is sick" or "if you go out tomorrow night, you can't have Billy over the next day" and that kind of thing.
Cube Jockey
1.)Is equal/joint custody a good idea?

I think in most cases it is a good idea. I like the section of the law that allows a judge to reject the joint custody motion if he/she feels one parent is unfit for joint custody.

The one section I think the law is missing, but might be covered under the judge's discretion, is the effect this has on kids and schooling. I'm all for joint custody as long as accomodating that doesn't uproot the kids from school. As an example, parents move several hundred miles apart after the divorce, or even to opposite ends of the city in a large metropolitan area.

2.)Is equal/joint custody a negative thing for the kids?

Divorce in general is bad for kids, there really isn't anything you can do to change that fact. Although as a child of divorce I might be more biased than others.

3.)What can be done to try and prevent children being used as pawns by one parent against another?

I think this law goes a long way towards ensuring kids can't be used as pawns. As CruisingRam stated, most judges are inclined to award full custody to the mother if she fights for it unless she is just completely incompetent, mentally ill or a druggie.

Often in divorces the mother uses the kids as leverage for other assets, this law would ensure that couldn't really happen as often and balance the playing field. (note: I'm saying often out of personal experience, not any published study -- I feel that personal experience qualifies in this case though since my generation is probably composed of the largest number of divorced parents)
DaffyGrl
1.)Is equal/joint custody a good idea?

Generally speaking I think it is a good idea. But the logistics could get sticky. Is it a 6 months here/6 months there deal, or back and forth every week? I guess that would be ok if both the father and the mother live in the child(ren)'s school district. And like Victoria pointed out, it probably works better when the divorse is amicable.

2.)Is equal/joint custody a negative thing for the kids?

I think it has positive and negative aspects. The child gets to spend an equal time with Mom and Dad, albeit separately, but he or she is also being shuttled back and forth (however often) which I think might lead to a feeling of rootlessness, i.e. where is home? I think a child should have some say in the matter, also, but not sure at what age that should be.

3.)What can be done to try and prevent children being used as pawns by one parent against another?

Wow, that's a tough one - almost as hard as what to do to achieve world peace. wink.gif I don't think I have a good answer for this question.
Aquilla
I've been wanting to weigh in on this one since it was first posted. I've been through two divorces, each with a child involved and the custody issues were not pretty things. California "encourages" joint custody mainly because it eases the problems for the courts in making tough decisions. Very typically the order from the court reads something along the lines of "Joint Legal and Physical custody in accordance with a parentling plan agreed to by both parties".... and, that' s the rub. Sounds good on paper, but consider that in reality, the "two parties" have a difficult time agreeing on pretty much everything - that's why they are getting divorced in the first place! To suddenly expect them to come to some sort of mutual agreement in something as important as raising their children and play nice just isn't very realistic. In my case, I started out with this sort of thing in both cases, but eventually ended up back in court in a custody battle, both of which resulted in the award of custody to me. So, it's not a Father's Rights issue, fathers can get custody if they are the better parent. It's tough, the system is biased against them in my opinion, but then again, raising a child isn't exactly the easiest thing to do either. All it takes is committment, and a hell of a lot of patience. whistling.gif

On to the questions....

1.)Is equal/joint custody a good idea?


2.)Is equal/joint custody a negative thing for the kids?



Answering these two together. No, it's not a good idea because it is a negative thing for the children involved. Bouncing them back and forth between homes with different rules and different friends is one of the most unstable things one can do to a child. That's the physical custody part and it's far better for a child to live with one parent and visit the other. Children need A HOME, not two temporary ones. From a legal custody standpoint, you can't make things exactly "equal" because what happens if there is a disagreement about something? Say one parent doesn't like the child's doctor and the other one does? How do you resolve that? Back to court.... One parent has to have the final say and if they can accept input from the other one, fine, but one has to have the final word on things.

3.)What can be done to try and prevent children being used as pawns by one parent against another?


Nothing, absolutely nothing. You can have judges issue orders and counselors "advising" and all that stuff and this kind of thing is going to happen. Divorce is an ugly business, it's hard on the parents and brutal on the children. What it comes down to in the end is how much a parent loves their kids and how committed to them they are. Back on Father's Day I posted in the Casual Conversation area about what being a dad was really all about. One of the things I learned over the years is that it's about being able to love someone else more than you love yourself. Putting their needs ahead of yours. So, when mom tries to jerk around your daughter as is happening right now with my 12 year old, I fight the urge to fight back in kind and instead help my little girl deal with it. I tell her it's not her problem, it's mine and I'll handle it. And then, you guessed it, it's back to court........ mad.gif
nebraska29
Thanks for sharing your perspective Aquilla, personal experiences are something that hyperlinks and cut and pasted quotes just can't quite convey. A lto of times, the issues discussed are mere abstractions. I think you hit question #3 on the head. I guess i was naively thinking that something could be ironed out where a judge could declare one side "combative" and take away their custody/visitation rights. Then again, if that was the case, then every single accusation would be aired out, and the court would be a tinderbox of combativeness. sad.gif
Aquilla
QUOTE(nebraska29 @ Jul 12 2004, 03:46 PM)
Thanks for sharing your perspective Aquilla, personal experiences are something that hyperlinks and cut and pasted quotes just can't quite convey.  A lto of times, the issues discussed are mere abstractions.  I think you hit question #3 on the head.  I guess i was naively thinking that something could be ironed out where a judge could declare one side "combative" and take away their custody/visitation rights.  Then again, if that was the case, then every single accusation would be aired out, and the court would be a tinderbox of combativeness.  sad.gif

It's a really, REALLY good topic, Nebraska29, really good and important. As far as family court being a "tinderbox" is concerned, that gets my nomination for understatement of the year! wink.gif Family Court during a custody hearing is more appropriately described as a verbal war zone. Charges get hurled, accusations made, trust me, it's really ugly.... and it's no place for kids. I really wish I had an answer to #3, both for my personal life and in general. Perhaps this discussion will continue and others might offer some ideas.
Google
still
QUOTE
1.)Is equal/joint custody a good idea?
2.)Is equal/joint custody a negative thing for the kids?

It can absolutely be a good idea. If both parents can make it work. Children are more adaptable than adults give them credit for. Problems usually arise when outside influences (like extended family or friends) try to convince the children that something is wrong with the way they are living. If you treat the situation like it is a problem, then it will become one. Many children of divorce that I have known have talked about this. The biggest issue they had is how other people viewed the situation and treated them differently because they came from a "broken home". It can be very condescending and confusing.

QUOTE
3.)What can be done to try and prevent children being used as pawns by one parent against another?

Sometimes these incidents are more subtle than can be quantified in court. I don't know that anything can be done about this. The only thing I can think of is assigning a state-appointed arbitrator outside of the court to monitor the custody arrangement for a certain period after the verdict. But this seems like a huge burden on the state in terms of money and manpower.
Hobbes
1.)Is equal/joint custody a good idea?

Absolutely. In fact, it should be the only idea. If you doubt this, then consider enforcing such bias into a married family, where one parent has sole authority over the children. It wouldn't work well, would it? Why--because raising the children is a joint responsibility. That responsibility doesn't change in the slightest upon divorce.

2.)Is equal/joint custody a negative thing for the kids?

Does this even need to be answered? Why would having two parents care for you be a bad thing?

3.)What can be done to try and prevent children being used as pawns by one parent against another?

First, this is far more likely without joint custody than it is with it-. Second, there is a simple remedy for this problem. Any parent who willfully and consistently performs such actions is not looking out for the best interest of the child--so their custody should be stripped from them (with proper legal actions, of course).
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(Hobbes @ Jul 23 2004, 08:25 AM)
Absolutely.  In fact, it should be the only idea.  If you doubt this, then consider enforcing such bias into a married family, where one parent has sole authority over the children.  It wouldn't work well, would it?  Why--because raising the children is a joint responsibility.  That responsibility doesn't change in the slightest upon divorce. 


I disagree. What happens in the event that one parent leaves the city, state, or country? Should that child then be shipped around from town to town, state to state, country to country half here, half there? What about school and consistency? Those things are important and, like it or not, accept it or not, divorce does change things.

I agree with Aquilla here. Children need a home. 50 percent here 50 percent there is confusing to them. It doesn't even happen when parents are still married and amicable, but living seperately. Just ask joint military couples who are stationed at different locations. The children live with one of them, visit the other (or the spouse comes to visit). You bet the 'level of responsibility' for the care of the children varies in those long-distance relationships. That's absolutely inevitable.
Hobbes
QUOTE
disagree. What happens in the event that one parent leaves the city, state, or country?


Can't happen--joint custody arrangements would require that BOTH parents live in the same proximity (usually a school district). So, this is an irrelevant argument.

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Children need a home. 50 percent here 50 percent there is confusing to them.


Equal custody does NOT imply a 50-50 living arrangement. Children can still have a home. Also, aside from this--are you actually proposing that children need a HOME more than they need their PARENTS? If so, I most heartily disagree.

However, both of these issues ignore what is, to me, the primary advantage of equal custody. It avoids the hassles associated with primary custody arrangements. No infighting during the divorce proceedings, no petty squables over visitation afterwards. In short, when primary custody is awarded there is going to be a battle to get it, and some gloating and misuse of it once its awarded. It implies a 'winner' and a 'loser'--when the only loser is the child, and therefore there are no winners. I don't see how any of that is beneficial to the child at all. You want to see something confuse a child--watch their reaction as their parents go through these arguments. Nothing could be worse than that.
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(Hobbes @ Jul 24 2004, 08:47 PM)
QUOTE
disagree. What happens in the event that one parent leaves the city, state, or country?


Can't happen--joint custody arrangements would require that BOTH parents live in the same proximity (usually a school district). So, this is an irrelevant argument.


I stand corrected. To tell you the truth, I've never known a divorced couple who lived within the same school district. I've never even known a divorced couple who lived within two hours of driving distance from one another. If that's the case, I suppose it would be much more likely to work. hmmm.gif
Gray Seal
The Iowa law is great news !

I am in Illinois and speak from that perspective and my own personal experiences, though I have spoken with dozens of disenfranchised parents some who some were from other states.

In Illinois, the law presumes there is one good parent and one bad parent unless the two parents agree otherwise. The sex bias towards females is evident. Nothing has to be shown in court to be wrong with a male. Being male is enough. Getting the label as the non custodial parent is a extreme disadvantage in the legal system. Once you have this label, the courts presume you do not look out for the best interest of your children, you need to be forced to properly financially support you children, and that you are untrustworthy.

Courts having the presumption that both parents are good parents will be a much better base reference. This will remove the damaging stigma based on an arbitrary factor such as one's sex. People have brought up exceptions. Of course there will be exceptions. These exceptions should not be the rule (as they are now).

As to children being too confused by two homes, I will put forth my children as examples where this has not happened. My four children of the divorce twelve years ago are now 12, 16, 19, and 21. I am proud of them all and they are all doing great. This was with a schedule where they were with me on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Yes, they are legally from a system where they have one home but I refused to accept this and made sure they had a second home and were not just visitors.

I challenge any of you to look at families you know and ask the question as to one parent being superior in all ways to the other. I have done so and come to the conclusion that there are pluses and minuses for each but overall they both were important parents in a vast majority of the time. It is time the law reflected this.

1.)Is equal/joint custody a good idea?
It is the best idea. Why should the courts insist to the children that they have one good parent and one bad parent? The current custodial / non-custodial model is creating a problem.

2.)Is equal/joint custody a negative thing for the kids?
Divorce can and should be a good thing. Society has put an unnecessary stigma upon it. I contend that the social stigma and the current legal system has caused the problems for children in most cases and not the change in relationship between the parents.

3.)What can be done to try and prevent children being used as pawns by one parent against another?
While preventing this is impossible whether the parents are married or otherwise, this legal change will decrease the use of the courts as a means to do so.
Hobbes
QUOTE
I stand corrected. To tell you the truth, I've never known a divorced couple who lived within the same school district. I've never even known a divorced couple who lived within two hours of driving distance from one another. If that's the case, I suppose it would be much more likely to work.


Well, I should probably correct myself as well--it SHOULD be set that way in the case of equal custody-but wouldn't have to be that way. To me, if both parents aren't willing to commit to that, then they're not really interested in equal custody, or the best interests of the child. As for those you know--I suspect none of them have equal custody. I would also add that it will only work if the parents really want it to work (which I guess is the case with any custody arrangement). I think it probably requires much more cooperation than a typical custody arrangement--given the animosity in many divorced couples, I'm not sure how well that would work in most circumstances.
Azure-Citizen
A few words might be in order regarding the difference between physical custody and legal custody, for anyone who is not familiar with the terms.

Physical custody is the right and responsibility to provide the primary residence for the child. The parent who has sole physical custody has a tremendous advantage, in that the child routinely resides with him or her, and it is the other parent (often referred to as the non-custodial parent) who only has physical control of the child during visitation periods. If a mother and father get divorced and the court orders that the children will physically reside with the mother, people often simplify explaining this by saying "she got the kids," etc.

Legal custody encompasses all other parental rights with the exception of physical custody, including all rights and responsibilities regarding making legal decisions about things such as health care, religion, education, general welfare, and rights regarding access to records such as school reports, medical records, etc. Whether a parent has physical custody or not, legal custody gives a parent the right to be informed, make decisions, and participate in these aspects.

There is a strong presumption that it is in the best interests of the child that both parents should have joint legal custody. Ordinarily, a court will order joint legal custody, unless one of the parents can show that the other parent is unfit to be involved in making any decisions regarding the child's welfare (difficult to prove), or the court finds that child abuse is involved and that legal custody for one or both of the parents would be inappropriate.

With regard to joint physical custody, courts may approve shared physical custody arrangements if the parents are amicable, cooperative, and will work together to make the joint physical custody arrangements work. Usually, the seperated parents need to reside somewhere proximate to each other such that the children can still attend the same school district and have the same social circles for stability while they are growing up. The most important factor here is the cooperation - if the parents do not fight each other, and work together to support the joint physical custody arrangements, it can work.

What is more typical, however, is an action in which the court awards joint legal custody to both parents, but sole physical custody to one parent, with the other parent just getting visitation rights, because the parties could not agree, and one or both petitioned the court to award sole physical custody to the disadvantage of the other. Facing a probable lack of cooperation between the parents, the court finds itself forced to make a choice, putting one parent over the other. Unfortunately, there does seem to be unspoken presumption (especially for younger children) that the mother is a preferred candidate for physical custody, despite the fact that each situation requires an objective and individual determination on a case by case basis. With all other factors and considerations being equal, with both parents being fit and proper persons equally equipped to provide the best physical custody, a judge will probably be more likely to award physical custody to the mother, for reasons that have more to do with long standing bias rooted in society and human nature.

Nonetheless, it should be pointed out that things are rarely so perfectly balanced, with both parents being equally equipped and poised to provide equally good physical custody, and that as a matter of statistics and probabilities there might be a real parent gender difference at work here. Consider the following: on average, taking the population as a whole, in a seperation between a mother and a father, who is more likely to be the one who has been staying at home, raising the children, and working less than full time employment, versus the parent who is more likely to be employed full-time and spends less time with the children during the day? Although there are plenty of examples of stay-at-home dads, or dual-income earning parents who both work full-time and see the children after they return from school/day-care, we are more likely to find a stay-at-home mom with a working dad, rather than a stay-at-home dad with a working mom. Given this slight difference in probability, we might expect to find more scenarios where judges would tend to award physical custody to mothers over fathers, even if all other factors were balanced, gender-neutral, and blind. During custody determination proceedings involving young children, a parent (regardless of sex) who has and intends to continue to work full-time is at a distinct disadvantage in a custody battle with a parent who has or intends to continue to be available throughout the day full-time for child care. If both parents are fit and one parent will be available throughout the day while the other parent is going to be working full-time with emphasis on their career, a court is not going to award sole physical custody to the career parent, and accept that the career parent is going to put the children in day care 40+ hours per week while the other parent is available to take care of them full-time.

The overriding point to be considered here, however, is that each case is different, and must be examined individually and on the merits, and that a gender preference for sole physical custody based on stereotyping alone is wrong. I would support a law that made joint physical custody mandatory in cases where both parents agreed in court that it was in the best interests of the children, while if the parents disagreed (and thus show it is highly probable they will not cooperate in a joint physical custody arrangement), then the court should be able to make a sole physical custody determination. The court should also be required to fully explain the reasoning in a written decision as to why one parent was determined to be the best choice over the other. I do not think many judges would have a problem with this, as they make tough decisions and stand by them all the time.

I would like to address this question:

What can be done to try and prevent children being used as pawns by one parent against another?

In the absolute sense of the word, as some posters previously suggested, I agree that there is nothing you can do to completely prevent it. However, I note the question is "What can be done to try and prevent...", and there are some things you can do.

Given a scenario where one parent keeps using the children to manipulate or attempt to harass and/or frustrate the other, such as cancelling scheduled visitation for ulterior reasons or threatening to withhold visitation unless the non-custodial parent behaves as the custodial parent directs, the non-custodial parent can adopt a zero tolerance approach and resort to steady legal pressure which will not appear to make much difference in the short term but can result in big changes in the long term. Let's take the example provided by a previous poster that the custodial parent tells the non-custodial parent just before visitation that "Billy is sick" or "if you go out tomorrow night, you can't have Billy over the next day." If told that the child suddenly has a cold or is ill, the non-custodial parent should tell the custodial parent that he or she will be over at the scheduled visitation pick-up time to see the child and that they are going to verify it. That they will be gently questioning the child on how the child feels, and will bring a thermometer to check the child's temperature. If the custodial parent refuses to allow this, the non-custodial parent should inform them that they believe they are refusing in a transparent attempt to disrupt or deny visitation, and that the non-custodial will pursue legal action (more on this in a minute). Likewise, if told that the non-custodial parent can not have the regularly scheduled visitation if the non-custodial parent goes out that night (assuming that they do not get publicly drunk or otherwise impair themselves for the following day), the non-custodial parent should ignore the threat, then show up for visitation as originally planned. In either scenario, when the visitation or permission to see the child is denied, the non-custodial parent should make written notes on everything that happened (I would recommend keeping a "visitation log" in a spiral notebook), and then proceed to avail themselves of the possible civil law and criminal law options.

For example, in Illinois, there is a criminal law statute that prohibits withholding visitation, unless the withholding party can show later in court that the child was in danger of imminent physical harm. Refusing to allow the non-custodial parent to verify that the child was ill, or refusing to allow the non-custodial parent visitation if they did not follow the custodial parent's unreasonable demands, are the kinds of reasons that will cause the custodial parent to get in trouble. Here is the relevant portion of the Illinois statute:

QUOTE
720 ILCS 5/10-5.5   Unlawful visitation interference

(b ) Every person who, in violation of the visitation provisions of a court order relating to child custody, detains or conceals a child with the intent to deprive another person of his or her rights to visitation shall be guilty of unlawful visitation interference.

(c ) A person committing unlawful visitation interference is guilty of a petty offense. However, any person violating this Section after 2 prior convictions of unlawful visitation interference is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

(d ) Any law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe that a person has committed or is committing an act in violation of this Section shall issue to that person a notice to appear.

(e ) The notice shall: (1) be in writing; (2) state the name of the person and his address, if known; (3) set forth the nature of the offense; (4) be signed by the officer issuing the notice; and (5) request to the person to appear before a court at a certain time and place.

(f ) Upon failure of the person to appear, a summons or warrant of arrest may be issued.

(g ) It is an affirmative defense that: (1) a person or lawful custodian committed the act to protect the child from imminent physical harm, provided that the defendant's belief that there was physical harm imminent was reasonable and that the defendant's conduct in withholding visitation rights was a reasonable response to the harm believed imminent; (2) the act was committed with the mutual consent of all parties having a right to custody and visitation of the child; or (3) the act was otherwise authorized by law.

What should the non-custodial parent do when they are standing at the doorstep, and the custodial parent has just denied visitation for an arbitrary and improper reason? Step back off onto the street, finish taking notes, call the police, and have a seat in the car while waiting for them to arrive. When they do, the non-custodial parent should apprise the officers of the situation, show them a copy of the court order specifying their right to the scheduled visitation, and give them a complimentary copy of the state criminal statute making visitation interference a crime just in case the officers are not familiar with it (and to make sure the police understand that you know the law and expect them to enforce it). The officers will probably knock on the door and request that the custodial parent comply with the court order, and if they still refuse to do so, the police will then issue a citation in accordance with the statute. In Illinois, the first conviction is a petty offense, but after the third instance, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor.

Turning to the civil law remedy, the non-custodial parent who is denied visitation for arbitrary and manipulative reasons by the custodial parent can also utilize contempt proceedings against the custodial parent for violating the court order that authorized the scheduled visitation (often called a "Rule to Show Cause"). The custodial parent will then be summoned to court to answer to the judge and show why they should not be held in contempt for denying the visitation. Although the custodial parent might lie and greatly exaggerate the facts of the given specific instance of a single visitation denial in an attempt to be excused, the cumulative effect can be damning, and may even form the basis for an eventual custody challenge and a petition for change in custody to reverse the physical custody arrangements later. The reasoning behind this is that the custodial parent has a mandatory court ordered obligation to facilitate custody, and if they continually frustrate this and deny it, the court can correct this by switching physical custody to the other parent, who will be given a chance to show that they can maintain physical custody while facilitating the other parent's routine and scheduled visitation.

None of this will happen overnight or quickly, but it is worth considering when dealing with a parent who routinely frustrates or denies the non-custodial parent their scheduled visitation. The best course of action for a non-custodial parent is to keep notes and a record of every scheduled visit; always insist on going through with scheduled visitation, unless the custodial parent can show why it should be cancelled; and follow up with consistent civil and criminal legal action to make the custodial parent realize that the non-custodial parent is serious about this. A non-custodial parent in this type of situation should consult with a family law attorney in their local area to find out how their state's criminal and civil laws apply in visitation interference scenarios, and learn how to enforce their rights.
Gray Seal
Hypothetical scenario #1

In Iowa with the new law, a couple comes before the judge who asks, "Are both of you willing to work to make the joint/shared custody work in the best interest of you children ?"

One parent replies "Yes" and the other parent declares, "My former spouse is impossible to work with. We disagree on too many things. There is no way this will work."

My opinion

The second parent should be declared the non-custodial parent. That parent is unwilling to work in the best interest of the children which is to have both parents equally involved in the children's lives.

Hypothetical scenario #2

In Iowa with the new law, a couple comes before the judge. One of them is moving so joint/shared custody is not practical.

My opinion

Custody should be awarded to the parent who is not moving.

Hypothetical scenario #3

In Iowa with the new law, a couple comes before the judge. Both of them are moving so joint/shared custody is not practical.

[I]Each parent has equal rights under the law and both should have an equal chance to have custody. A random selection should be made which supports the law where parents are treated equally. I am putting my own interpretation as to the intent of the law. I hope this will be the interpretation. Parents should not be subject to any sort of discrimination and should be treated equally unless substantial evidence can be presented which shows otherwise.

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Not cooperating with the new joint/custody law should be looked upon unfavorably by the courts. It will be a great incentive to do so if there are repercussions. Currently, females can use the courts to use the children as pawns. It is legally supported.

QUOTE(Azure-Citizen)
I would support a law that made joint physical custody mandatory in cases where both parents agreed in court that it was in the best interests of the children, while if the parents disagreed (and thus show it is highly probable they will not cooperate in a joint physical custody arrangement), then the court should be able to make a sole physical custody determination. The court should also be required to fully explain the reasoning in a written decision as to why one parent was determined to be the best choice over the other. I do not think many judges would have a problem with this, as they make tough decisions and stand by them all the time.
I would have to disagree with this. Judges are not able to make thorough investigations as to parenting capabilities. Judges do not have the training nor skills to do so. Frankly, court clinical psychologists are a pot luck as to their conclusions. Some are good but others have their own issues, agendas, or financial biases.

As to written decisions, these can be quite simple. This is allowed as to do otherwise would put an undue burden upon the courts.

Simple and slight reasons should not be sufficient to override the equal treatment of the parents and their relationship with the children. If judgement by judges is to be the deciding factor, it will mean a continuation of the use of arbitrary rationales and discrimination. It would overwhelm the courts to expect otherwise.
Azure-Citizen
(In response to Gray Seal)

QUOTE
Hypothetical scenario #1

In Iowa with the new law, a couple comes before the judge who asks, "Are both of you willing to work to make the joint/shared custody work in the best interest of you children ?"

One parent replies "Yes" and the other parent declares, "My former spouse is impossible to work with. We disagree on too many things. There is no way this will work."

My opinion

The second parent should be declared the non-custodial parent. That parent is unwilling to work in the best interest of the children which is to have both parents equally involved in the children's lives.

In my opinion, that would be too rigid and oversimplified as the criteria for selecting physical custody. Sure, perhaps it is true that the parent who replied "We disagree on too many things, there is no way this will work" is wrong, or is saying this simply because they want to keep the kids away from the other spouse, and the Judge needs to take this in account. However, it is also possible that they are the one being honest and forthright, and the other parent says "yes" only because they think in a physical custody fight, they will lose anyway due to the way they have treated the children. What is really going? No one really knows until the court attempts to carefully parses through all the facts. Judges can't proceed from a simple rule that if a parent does not think joint physical custody should work, they should award custody to the other parent because they think it might work. They can take it into consideration, however, as an initial expression of the willingness of a given parent to cooperate.

QUOTE
Hypothetical scenario #2

In Iowa with the new law, a couple comes before the judge. One of them is moving so joint/shared custody is not practical.

My opinion

Custody should be awarded to the parent who is not moving.

Again, I'm not sure it would be good policy to award physical custody simply on the basis that one of them is moving - what of all the other factors? However, the judge will probably take it into account and weigh it as a factor.

QUOTE
Hypothetical scenario #3

In Iowa with the new law, a couple comes before the judge. Both of them are moving so joint/shared custody is not practical.

Each parent has equal rights under the law and both should have an equal chance to have custody. A random selection should be made which supports the law where parents are treated equally. I am putting my own interpretation as to the intent of the law. I hope this will be the interpretation. Parents should not be subject to any sort of discrimination and should be treated equally unless substantial evidence can be presented which shows otherwise.

I agree that parents should not be subject to any discrimination on the basis of gender and should be treated equally unless evidence is presented showing otherwise. However, I could never see the legal system supporting the concept of a random selection, such as the judge asking the parties to pick a number between 1 and 10 or having them draw straws. It would always be better for the court to weigh the various factors and make an informed choice, rather than focusing solely on whether or not the parties are moving. In Illinois, determining custody is made in accordance with the best interests of the child, which is based on consideration of the following relevant factors per 750 ILCS 5/602: (1) the wishes of the child's parent or parents as to his custody; (2) the wishes of the child as to his custodian; (3) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest; (4) the child's adjustment to his home, school and community; (5) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (6) the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child's potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person; (7) the occurrence of ongoing abuse as defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, whether directed against the child or directed against another person; and (8) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.

QUOTE
Judges are not able to make thorough investigations as to parenting capabilities. Judges do not have the training nor skills to do so. Frankly, court clinical psychologists are a pot luck as to their conclusions. Some are good but others have their own issues, agendas, or financial biases.

Sometimes, these things are true, and a judge does not always have the time to thoroughly investigate all the parenting capabilities, and must make an educated guess. However, I'm not sure how well that argument lends itself to the concept that we should instead just draw straws if both the parents are moving, or simply give physical custody to the parent who doesn't move, and tell judges not to consider the other factors on the basis that we don't trust them to make the decision.
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