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Description - The Custody Wars by Mary Ann Mason

How should the courts decide custody cases that involve adoption, divorce, and single parenting? Should an abusive husband be given custody of his child? What about unwed fathers? Gay parents? How much say should young children have in court? In this text, family lawyer and historian, Mary Ann Mason, casts a harsh spotlight on these and other aspects of child custody. She argues that the legal shift to equal treatment of men and women has translated into parents' rights taking precedence over children's needs. Mason insists that fairness to parents must not come at the expense of children. Drawing on a wealth of legal cases and research, Mason presents a bold programme for reform that aims to change the terms of debate about child custody cases.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780465015290
ISBN-10: 0465015298
Format: Paperback
(203mm x 137mm x 16mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 7-Jan-2000
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - The Custody Wars by Mary Ann Mason

Book Reviews - The Custody Wars by Mary Ann Mason

US Kirkus Review » A fierce and informed plea for courts, parents, psychiatrists, and social workers to consider "the best interests of the child" before dividing custody, Solomon-like, between mother and father. Often, the child is the trophy that one or another parent carries off in vituperative clashes that have little or nothing to do with the welfare of the vulnerable offspring, says family-law expert Mason (Law and Social Welfare/Univ. of Calif., Berkeley; The Equality Trap, 1988). Political, scientific, legal, and social trends carry more weight in the courts that rule on custody than do considerations about the children, she charges. As the role of father is viewed more and more positively, courts are looking kindly on fathers (including unwed fathers) as joint or even primary caretakers in custody disputes and giving weight to biological claims even though the biological father may have been absent from the child's life for many years. Mason looks at these issues plus stepparents' lack of legal standing, the troubling rulings when domestic violence is an issue in divorce (fathers who abuse their partners may still get custody or substantial visitation because it was not shown that they abused their children); the turmoil when parents before the court are homosexual; and the morass of legal claims created by new reproductive technology. What's missing in all of this - in many cases, literally unmentioned in court documents or even in mediation reports - is the child. Mason offers a clear, concise plan to keep the best interests of the child in the forefront, including determining the "primary parent" (that is, the parent who is most responsible for everyday care), reviewing and possibly changing custody arrangements periodically as the child reaches new developmental stages, and most of all, consulting the children who are the center of the legal wrangles. Mason offers sometimes startling information regarding the absence of children's input or consideration of their needs in custody disputes, and a zinging denunciation of "one-sizefits-all" resolutions. (Kirkus Reviews)

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