FEMRAM member Joan Meier wrote an excellent letter to the editor Myths about custody litigation on December 15, 2017, following the Washington Post‘s extremely misleading article More than 20 states in 2017 considered laws to promote shared custody of children after divorce
Professor Meier’s letter corrected some of the numerous factually incorrect claims in the original article. Michael Alison Chandler who wrote the article was already aware of many of the facts Meier included in her letter because FEMRAM member Molly Dragiwicz spoke to the journalist before she wrote the article, attempted to correct her faulty assumptions, and sent her a lengthy written comment. Chandler elected to ignore the facts provided to her and proceeded with her planned story.
Governments such as those in the UK and Australia that have that have looked at the actual outcomes for children subjected to court-enforced mandatory “shared care” have repeatedly rejected legal presumptions in favor of 50/50 custody because applying rigid time-based arrangements is bad for children. Among other problems, the focus on parents rights to children’s time often leads to ignoring the realities of domestic violence and child sexual abuse, both of which are disproportionately prevalent in cases that require family court intervention in custody.
Norway, which ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, mandates that children have a right to a say about custody arrangements from age 7. This law recognizes that presumptive 50/50 custody treats children like property to be equitably divided and marginalizes children’s needs, which include continuity of care and protection from an abusive parent.
Meier is Professor of Clinical Law at George Washington University and Founder and Legal Director at the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP) which was founded in 2003 in response to an urgent need for expert appellate litigation to reverse unjust trial court rulings and to protect the legal rights of women and children victimized by family violence. DV Leap assists abused mothers in appellate cases to challenge court decisions that harm mothers and children.