Times are changing, and for fathers who are preparing to get divorced, that’s a good thing. While there used to be a perception that it was in a child’s best interests to be raised by his or her mother following a divorce, this is no longer the guiding principle in child custody matters. It is now written into New Jersey law that, “the rights of both parents shall be equal,” with regard to seeking custody, and recent studies have confirmed the importance of dad maintaining an active role in his children’s lives.
The Child & Family Blog, which is jointly published by the University of Cambridge, the University of Princeton Future of Children Project, and the Jacobs Foundation in Switzerland, reported the results of a survey in which mental health experts overwhelmingly endorsed the fundamental importance of the father’s role in a child’s development. In an article entitled, “After Parents[‘] Divorce, Regular Overnight Stays With Dad Are Best For Most Young Children,” the author writes:
“110 mental health experts from 15 countries endorse [a] report that recommends overnight care [for] children from both parents after separation. . . . We found no support for the idea that children under four (some say under six) need to spend nearly all their time living with only one parent, when their other parent is also loving and attentive. Warnings against infants and toddlers spending overnight time with each parent are inconsistent with what we know about the development of strong positive parent-child relationships.”
The article goes on to state that, “[t]o maximize infants’ chances of having a secure lifelong bond with both parents, public policy should encourage both parents to actively participate in daytime and overnight care of their young children.”
Seeking Parenting Time as a Divorcing Father in New Jersey
To be clear, just as New Jersey law does not favor one parent over the other, the study cited by the Child and Family Blog does not suggest that children should spend more time with their father than their mother. Instead, it encourages both parents to maintain an active role in their children’s upbringing and development.
Even so, this type of research is good news for divorcing fathers, as it supports the case for many fathers to seek equal parenting rights during the divorce process. In situations where the mother is unavailable or unfit to parent post-divorce (or where she simply works too much to serve as the children’s primary caretaker), it also helps to establish that the father can – and should – assume primary responsibility for meeting his children’s developmental needs.
Divorce Does Not Change the Fundamental Importance of a Father’s Role in His Children’s Lives
In order to demonstrate the important role that fathers play in their children’s lives, and to bolster the argument that divorced fathers should have plenty of overnight stays with their children, the Child & Family Blog makes this simple – yet compelling – comparison between pre- and post-divorce life:
“If we value Dad reading Goodnight Moon to his toddler and soothing his fretful baby at 3am while the parents are living together, why withdraw our support and deprive the child of these expressions of fatherly love just because the parents no longer live together, or just because the sun has gone down?”
As the article states, let’s overcome the “ambivalen[t] and contradictory ideas” about parenthood and allow fathers and children to live a happy, nurturing, and loving life post-divorce.
Speak with a Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer in Hackensack, NJ
At MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC, we are passionate about protecting fathers’ relationships with their children during the divorce process. If you are considering a divorce and would like to speak with an attorney, we encourage you to call 201-880-9771 or contact us online for a confidential initial consultation.