Thursday 14 December 2017

Men will only get equality in custody cases when women face some hard truths

'Fathers go to court with the idea that their cases will be dealt with fairly but often find a legal system they claim doesn’t want them to be too involved in looking after their children' (stock photo)
'Fathers go to court with the idea that their cases will be dealt with fairly but often find a legal system they claim doesn’t want them to be too involved in looking after their children' (stock photo)

Lorraine Courtney

The gatecrashing of the Rose of Tralee by a Fathers4Justice protester was a misguided way to go about making a point. That is not to say there are not real issues around fathers' rights.

Unmarried and divorcing dads get a very bad deal in Ireland when it comes to traditional custody arrangements. Fathers go to court with the idea that their cases will be dealt with fairly but often find a legal system they claim doesn't want them to be too involved in looking after their children. As a result, they too often come away with limited access rights.

We know this thanks to Dr Roisin O'Shea. The family law researcher observed 493 judicial separation and divorce cases in 2010, which are ordinarily held in private. But she couldn't find a single case where the wife was ordered to pay maintenance for children or a spouse, and had only seen the courts order joint custody in two cases.

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