A lot of people ask me what the major differences mother’s rights and father’s rights child custody matters carry? The short answer to that question is very little. In the most important respects both mothers and fathers are parents. This is why most jurisdictions use the terms parental rights versus mother’s rights and father’s rights. When it comes to child custody, things such as parental fitness play a much larger role than simply looking at who is the mother and who is the father. To view it any other way is to look at it incorrectly.
I have often overheard a father say that because he is Dad, he will easily “win” custody of his son. Equally, I have heard mothers say similar types of things. First, this is absolutely not true, especially in today’s society. Second, and much more importantly, this is such a destructive way to look at child custody matters. At the heart of every child custody matter or parental rights and responsibilities case there is a child or children. The best interests of those children should always be the top priority of every parent, at all times.
Whenever I see parents take the adversarial stance of who will “win”, my first concern is that these parents are not best positioned to meet the best needs of their children. That’s not to say that they’re not capable of it, just that with that win-lose mentality, they are less likely to be able to see what’s most important.
Unfortunately it is always a possibility that child custody or parental rights and responsibilities matters need to be meted out in a court. I only say unfortunately because, in many cases the underlying need for this is the parent’s inability to work together to come up with a solid plan for caring for their child(ren). In many courts today it is often a requirement that parent’s attempt to mediate and work together to come up with a parenting plan. The reason for this is because even the courts realize that the two best people suited to determine the best interests of the child(ren) are the parents.
It is important to pause to point out that there are obviously situations where the parents are unable to work together and that is when a court or outside entity must make these decisions. Situations involving domestic violence or abuse are two examples of that. Obviously it would never be in a child’s best interest to be involved in those types of situations.
If the inability for the parents to work together comes down to simple differences or disagreements though, that is when it becomes very unfortunate to see that translate to the inability for parents to effectively co-parent their child(ren).
I have found myself in the role of confidant many times, helping friends and family in these types of situations and I always start by encouraging them to do everything they can to set their differences aside and realize that they still share a common goal and interest, which is that of the child(ren). Setting aside differences and working together to provide for your child(ren) is not only the mature, responsible thing to do, it is what proves time and time again to be the best option for the child(ren).
In my own personal situation I have been on both sides of the spectrum. There has never been a time in which we needed to let the court hand down the decision that everyone came out a “winner”. So the most important point here is that it’s not about the differences that mother’s rights and father’s rights child custody cases carry. It’s about how to work together as effectively as possible to co-parent and be the best parents that you can be to the child(ren) you brought into this world. This is my opinion and the opinion of most of us who have been through both sides of the parental rights and responsibilities system.
That being said, realizing that we are all different and all have very different circumstances is something that is important for all of us to do. That’s why I believe that there should never be any judgment from anyone about another person’s situation. We need to all learn to accept and embrace as much as possible and remember that first and foremost it is about the children of this world. They are first and foremost in all of our hearts and our daily actions must reflect that. One of the hardest things to see if the negative impact that our actions as parents can have on our children. It is so important for us to remember this at all times.