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Article   |    
An Overview of Child Custody Laws
Barbara A. Weiner
Psychiatric Services 1985; doi:
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The Section on Psychiatry and Law at the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center Rush Medical College, Room 344, 1725 West Harrison Street, Chicago, Illinois 60612

1985 American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

The increasing divorce rate, the large number of women in the workforce, and the expanded role of fathers in parenting have led to a dramatic increase in child custody litigation. The law has responded to this growing problem in many ways, the foremost being to shift the emphasis of child custody laws from the rights of the parents to the needs of the child. The author traces the development of child custody laws from English common law, which granted custody to fathers, to the present best-interests-of-the-child standard. Criteria for evaluating the child's best interests, legislation to reduce postdecree litigation and child snatching, and approaches to ease the pain of family breakups, such as joint custody and divorce mediation, are among the many facets of present laws discussed by the author.

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