An example of government support for fathers has recently been displayed by Michigan legislation which states that in a custody dispute the judge must presume that joint custody is in the “best interests of the child” and “should be ordered”. This significant piece of legislation is historical in its attempt to identify that mother and father share an equal platform in the eyes of their children. This fathers rights of Michigan legislation is an attempt to recognize a need for balanced parenting, i.e. a shared responsibility of both parents that needs to be addressed by their shared presence during the childhood of their child/children.
The break-up of a marriage does not usually occur overnight, but will build up over a period of time. During the break-up process the children will be witness to the actions of either parent towards one another. It is an unfortunate scene for a child to witness because they will find themselves having to handle emotions that should not have to come into play until they are much older. How they handle their parents separation will depend significantly on how the parents handle each other as well as their children during this rough passage. Parents who acknowledge that a balanced parenting approach will continue to benefit their children even after their divorce/separation, will continue to help their children in a positive way.
It is a fact that single parent families struggle harder to manage because the weight of responsibility is not shared. The children of single parent families also lose the benefit of the absent parents’ perspective, with the balanced parenting issue losing its way totally if the absent parent remains unseen.
The argument that imposed joint custody is dangerous to battered women and their children is of course true and highlights the need for courts to be vigilant when imposing joint custody. which Michigan’s latest legislation makes possible should the court be presented with evidence that one of the parents has sustained violence at the hands of the other. It is also worthy of note that men have also been battered by their wives, although this is less reported because men tend to be less willing to admit to assaults by their wives.
The latest Michigan legislation is a brave step towards balanced parenting being considered by the legal system as an essential part of a child’s upbringing.