Shared-parenting custody arrangements are always challenging, even for parents who get along reasonably well. But most of the time, parents are at odds with each other and lawyers and judges must usually step in to draft a compromise custody arrangement. In the past, the legal process often deferred to the "tender years" doctrine to justify granting the mother more time with the children, due to the importance of mother-child bonding in the early years. However, fathers are now demanding an explanation for why they are automatically granted less time with the children, and why that arrangement is in the children's "best interests."
Some states, most recently Colorado, are introducing bills that are meant to provide a greater chance for fathers to have equal parenting time, by requiring courts to provide written explanation for any custody arrangement that does not provide for equal time with both the mother and father. Opponents of such legislation worry that fathers with a history of domestic abuse will be allowed equal time with the children, potentially creating a harmful environment for them, and also causing stress for the mother and victim. While default views are to give mothers more time, arrangements are often altered when a father plays an important role in the children's life and courts will generally recognize those situations, and also be privy to those situations where fathers may not be the best role models, warranting less time with him.
Attorney Lombardi says, "This is just one more example of a double standard or prejudice leading to gender discrimination. Women can't have it both ways. If discrimination based on sex or gender is important then it is important in all aspects of life. And not just the on the issues women want changed."