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Letters

Exploring necessity, effectiveness of joint custody

Regarding your June 24 article "When equal custody is law, who gains?": The Iowa legislation mandating joint custody is a mistake that will only compound the harm of divorce.

In single custody cases, the children are reduced to a visiting relationship with one of their parents. In joint custody, they are reduced to a visiting relationship with both of their parents. This is not an improvement.

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We should also understand that children who must shift their living quarters every week have two residences, but no home. Young children intuit this and older children articulate it. I have known couples who had the children remain in the family dwelling while the divorce was in process, with the mother and father moving in and out week by week. They readily admitted that the life of a transient is insufferable. So why inflict it on the children?

It would be helpful to understand that the real culprit behind the push for joint custody is no-fault divorce, the most destructive family-policy decision of the 20th century. When no one is misbehaving grossly, no one is willing to forfeit custody. We must ask why - absent persistent, gross misbehavior - the marriage is being dissolved and the children's home dismantled.
Grace Weber
Weybridge, Vt.

I wanted to comment on the question of "Who wins?" with joint custody. While it is an important journalistic habit to solicit opinions from all sides, it is hard to argue that children don't need solid connections to both parents, unless one is truly harmful to the child.

My 12-year-old son has been living with both me and his father - in our separate apartments - for 10 years. It has been an unequivocal success. However, we have had some ground rules. We used a mediator, not lawyers, when we separated. We agreed to live in the same neighborhood so as not to disrupt his life, and whatever conflicts we have had, we haven't put them on him.

Rather than focus on how a shared schedule can "leave a child feeling that he doesn't belong to either parent," why not focus on the skills needed to successfully parent a child in two homes?
Vicki Madden
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Reverse lying trend by example

Regarding your June 23 article "Lying": There is one truism that has proven to be rock-hard in my 45 years of experience in the business world - the simple, clear, foundational principle that any contract must rest on good faith, your-word-is-your-bond truth. Otherwise, agreements fall apart, trust dies, corruption and larceny putrefy the environment of commerce, and the resulting collateral damage is immense.

The same principle holds in the world of government and international affairs. We were misled about reasons for invading and occupying Iraq, and now our nation is divided as never before - with vicious partisan attacks the new mode of "debate."

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When a professor of professional ethics concludes in your article, "It's now more lucrative to lie....There is a risk, but the payoff is potentially enormous," we as a people are indeed in terribly deep trouble.
Mort Mendel
Ellenton, Fla.

I firmly believe that those who choose to be truthful and live life with a commitment to personal integrity will gain true success. Good morals are learned at home and re- inforced by the community, including the church community.

If more people choose to set an example for their children by being truthful themselves, maybe we can reverse this negative trend.
Chuck Jordan
Phoenixville, Pa.

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