Phyllis Schlafly

It's not just gay adoptions that threaten the right of children to be raised in traditional two-parent, mother-father homes. A threat also comes from father-phobic family courts that deprive children of their fathers.

Under no-fault divorce, equality is the rule: Either spouse can terminate a marriage without the other spouse's consent and without any fault committed by the cast-off spouse or even alleged by the spouse initiating the divorce.

When it comes to determining child custody, however, sexism is the rule. By making allegations of fault (true or false, major or petty) against the male, the female can usually get the family court to grant her their children and his money.

Despite an extended string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions upholding the fundamental right of parents to the care, custody and control of their children (reaffirmed in a 2000 case), and despite a very high standard that the government must meet in order to terminate parental legal rights, fathers are routinely denied due process when it comes to determining child custody after divorce.

Family courts use a highly subjective rule called the best interest of the child as recommended by court-appointed child-custody evaluators or psychotherapists. There is no requirement that they have first-hand experience with raising children, and they are allowed to use their own personal prejudices to overrule the parents.

But why aren't parents the ones best able to decide what is in the best interest of the child?

Family courts routinely rubber-stamp child-custody evaluators who recommend maternal custody with fathers getting so-called visitation only every other weekend. This despite the mountain of social science research presented in Warren Farrell's book, "Father and Child Reunion" (Tarcher; $24.95), which proves that the best interest of the child of divorced parents is usually to give the child equally shared parent time.

Two dozen different measures listed in Farrell's book indicate that equally shared custody is better for children than maternal custody alone. Farrell's book explains how most fathers provide benefits that mothers usually don't.

Yet, family courts typically rule as though fathers have no value except their money, and routinely banish fathers (who have not been proven to have committed any misdeed) from the lives of their children, except for every other weekend. Farrell describes how this typical custody pattern is a loser for the child, causing intense feelings of deprivation and depressive behavior.


Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
 
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