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Volume 24 • Number 4

October 2010



Awarding Custody: Children’s Interests and the Fathers’ Rights Movement

by Kyla Ebels-Duggan

Recently there has been a flurry of interest and activity, both scholarly and political, about the role and importance of fathers in child rearing. One manifestation of this interest is a movement that began in the United Kingdom, but is increasingly influential in the United States and Canada, asserting fathers’ rights in custody disputes following divorce. Advocates assert that fathers should have equal standing with mothers in such cases, and that current practice fails to grant them this standing. U ntil the nineteenth century, most Western legal systems granted fathers property rights in their children and failed to grant mothers any rights at all. Thus, fathers were almost always able to claim custody successfully after divorce. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the “Tender Years Doctrine” displaced this practice. This view holds that children, especially young children, have special need of maternal nurture, and that mothers are naturally more suited to the task of raising young children than fathers are.

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ISSN: 2152-0542