I couldn't agree more with this suggestion from the Boston Globe that the governor or legislature convene a task force to explore child custody reform proposals. It's way past time for a serious consideration of reforms in our custody law to level the playing field for fathers, who have been treated unfairly for so many years, and whose children have suffered as a consequence.
The recently enacted alimony reform was a very real victory for gender equality in Massachusetts. This victory has more than a few of us dads (and others who care about dads and their children) thinking about the possibility that we might finally reform our child custody laws as well. As with alimony reform - which I supported long before it became popular - I have also gone on record, long ago here, in favor of a shared child custody presumption (see my first, second, and third posts on this issue from 2008). I am not going to get too excited too soon, but I am very encouraged by the sight of this opinion piece in the Boston Globe. Who knows? Maybe equality is contagious.
We have lived far too long with the "best interests of the child" standard not to finally implement laws and procedures that will fully give life to that standard as the true test, not just in theory but in practice. While the "best interests of the child" has long been the legal standard - on paper - in practice that standard has proved vague enough to be undermined far too often by traditional, patriarchal and/or downright anti-male attitudes that earlier accompanied the now-extinct "tender years doctrine" and which attitudes have stubbornly persisted.
For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.