Cover image for The custody wars : why children are losing the legal battle and what we can do about it
The custody wars : why children are losing the legal battle and what we can do about it
Mason, Mary Ann.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 278 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF547 .M368 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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How should the courts decide custody cases that involve adoption, divorce, and single parenting? Should an abusive husband be given custody of his child? What about unwed fathers? Gay parents? Full-time working mothers? How much say should young children have in court? Family lawyer and historian Mary Ann Mason here casts a harsh spotlight on these and other thorny aspects of contemporary child custody. She argues that the legal shift to "equal treatment" of men and women has translated into parents' rights taking precedence over children's needs. Fairness to parents must not come at the expense of children, Mason insists. Drawing on a wealth of legal cases and research--as well as the stories of families caught in these disputes--she presents a bold program for reform that is certain to change the terms of debate on one of the most highly charged topics on the national agenda.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Mason (law, Univ. of California, Berkeley) looks at how custody issues are settled and how the needs of children are often ignored. One child is quoted as saying that he was unsure to whom he belonged, and the idea of children treated as property instead of as people with feelings permeates the book. Mason reviews the legal, sociological, and psychological literature to provide extensive examples of how the courts deal with issues relating to children as well as technology and the use of frozen eggs and donated sperm. She also discusses single-sex couples and stepparents. This is fascinating reading that may encourage people to reconsider how children are handled in divorce cases. Mason suggests many alternatives, all of which include letting the child's voice be heard throughout the divorce process. The book is loaded with endnotes and resources for additional reading. Collections with a focus on children's issues, law, family studies, and sociology will want this one.‘Danna C. Bell-Russel, Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this concise and well-written book Mason (an attorney with a doctorate in American History) contends that contemporary American judges, in their efforts to be scrupulously fair to divorcing mothers and fathers, may be doing a great disservice to children. In earlier times, mothers had a distinct advantage in being regarded as "naturally" more capable to assume custody of children when marriages unraveled. Yet, as today's courts better recognize the similar yet divergent commitments to work and personal fulfillment among men and women, judges now strive to be more open-minded about custodial awards. Today's courts heavily favor joint custodial arrangements. However, in so doing, according to Mason, they pay less attention to meeting the needs of children and to the accumulating social science evidence showing this and similar custodial decision-making to be contrary to children's developmental needs. Mason's cogent analysis calls for a reconsideration of children's needs in the adjudication of domestic disputes. Policy makers and citizens alike will find this as an intriguing, thoughtful, and highly accessible work. All levels. W. Feigelman Nassau Community College

Table of Contents

Other Works By Mary Ann Masonp. ii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Are Mothers Losing The Custody Wars?p. 11
2 Joint Custody Solomon's Solutionp. 39
3 A Voice for the Child?p. 65
4 Enter the Unwed Fatherp. 93
5 Stepparents And Other Legal Strangersp. 119
6 Domestic Violence The Hot Zone Of The Custody Warsp. 143
7 Fit to Be a Parent? Gay and Lesbian Parents Come Out of The Closet Fightingp. 175
8 Test Tube Troubles Custody in the Age Of New Reproductive Technologyp. 203
9 A Place for the Childp. 229
Afterwordp. 241
Notesp. 245
Indexp. 271