In her Oct. 11 letter, “Maryland courts put parents’ rights ahead of children’s safety,” Eileen King criticized Maryland’s newly established Commission on Child Custody Decision Making as a vehicle for emphasizing parents’ rights and joint custody. I wish to explain that joint custody is primarily for the children, not the parents.
Children love and need both parents. During marriage, there is automatic joint custody of all children. Why should divorce erase a parent from a child’s life? Why should a family have to spend large sums of money on a potentially ruinous custody battle when those funds could go to benefit the child? Why should one parent be reduced to spending only a few days a month with a child, if he or she is ready, willing and able to be a capable parent? The children suffer the most in such arrangements because, as many child experts point out, children benefit from bonding with two parents.
There is no statutory joint custody in Maryland. And no judge would willingly give sole custody or joint custody to an abusive or neglectful parent.
In the current sole-custody climate, there are often charges and counter-charges, and judges must determine which parent will be the “winner” in a custody battle. If the commission can help utilize joint custody, mediation, parent education, collaborative law and expedited handling of custody complaints, while respecting children’s rights, it will have done a great service to the children of Maryland.
David L. Levy, Hyattsville
The writer is a member of Maryland’s Commission on Child Custody Decision Making and a co-director of the Children’s Rights Fund for Maryland.