Child Custody and Support

Does the system serve children's best interests?


Soaring divorce and illegitimacy rates are leaving an increasing number of children under the control of the courts. In 1993, 27 percent of all American children under 18 lived with one parent, up from 12 percent in 1970. New gender-neutral laws require judges to render custody decisions that favor neither mothers nor fathers but serve the best interests of the child. Women's rights groups argue that courts are holding working mothers to a higher standard of parental care. They face a burgeoning fathers' rights movement demanding equal time with the children of divorce through joint custody arrangements. Mediation is proving effective in quickly resolving many custody disputes. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats are both proposing get-tough solutions to collecting billions of dollars owed in child support.

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