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A pioneer for fathers' rights

March 22, 2009

Re "James Cook," Obituary, March 12

James Cook was a pioneer who fought the prejudice against fathers who want to spend equal time with their children after divorce.

Contrary to the impression given in Cook's obituary, California does not treat mothers and fathers equally when it comes to child custody. "Joint custody" in the California Family Code means "significant periods of physical custody." It does not mean equal time. Moreover, there is no presumption favoring joint custody.

When fighting for women's rights, no one accepts a standard that women have a right to "significant" compensation for equal work -- the standard is equal pay.

California gives family courts the widest discretion in determining custody. This is where the prejudice resides. Although progress has been made since the days when Cook was denied all but visitation rights -- an insult to any father who loves his children -- the goal of equal treatment is a long way off.

Alan Edwards

Oakland

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