Divided families, unanimous ruling
THE JULY 10 state Supreme Judicial Court opinion in Mason v. Coleman was great news for the vast majority of divorced parents with shared custody and their children. But you wouldn't know it from reading "A house divided" (Living/Arts, July 19), a misleading account of joint custody and the case itself. The hard choices faced by both families in the story, the mixed feelings of the children, the complexity of blended families -- all are the result of divorce itself, not shared custody.
The SJC's ruling protects children from being unexpectedly deprived of one of their parents through a ``move-away." The ruling protects both men and women who have joint custody. Indeed, the ruling protects Betsy Shanley Coleman -- it prevents her ex-husband from moving away too.
The fact that the ruling was unanimous and lacks
ambiguity will hopefully keep many potential cases from ever
reaching family court. It will certainly allow parents and
their children to breathe a little easier. I should know --
I was raised in joint custody and currently share custody of
my own children.
JED HRESKO, Boston
I AM DISPLEASED with the Globe's slanted view of a very intricate court case in ``A house divided." The issue is not whether one parent ``wins" (for there are never any winners in a custody hearing), but rather the attempt to preserve familial cohesiveness for the child.
As a divorced parent struggling to raise one child from a previous marriage and two new children from a subsequent marriage, I am constantly faced with the balance of interests between myself, my ex-spouse, and, most important, my daughter. I have willingly made sacrifices ranging from which job I could accept to where I could buy a house to accommodate my visitation schedule . My wife is an angel in that she also took on these sacrifices when she married me and we began our own family (divorce affects all adults and all children involved in the situation).
Articles such as yours only confuse the issues and create
anger instead of understanding.
STEPHEN R. KING, Boston
I APPLAUD the Supreme Judicial Court in its decision in the Mason v. Coleman move-away case. I consider it a long-awaited step in the right direction.
As a stepmother to two children, I have witnessed firsthand the over-the-counter method with which the Massachusetts family courts hand down their custody rulings . There is an overwhelming bias toward mothers, and far too often fathers are seen as simply the paycheck, offering nothing more than a weekly income for the custodial mothers.
I'm not surprised that Jon Coleman moved before the case was decided. I'm sure that he had presumed that the courts would rule in favor of Besty Shanley Coleman. I'm sure he never believed that a Massachusetts court would rule in favor of the father.
I'm appalled at the way you biased this story. I'm
disgusted that you suggest the possibility of child abuse in
order to sway sentiments toward the mother. All you have
done is perpetuate the fallacy that fathers are nothing more
than guaranteed income.
ERIN BUTURLIA, North Andover
MANY EXPERTS agree that it's the conflict that hurts the kids. Experts also agree that the legal system is not the appropriate forum to resolve the conflict that sometimes exists in cases of divorce with children.
The Globe participated in that conflict by allowing one of the parents to involve the children in the dispute. If given the opportunity in the legal arena, parties will always find ways to exacerbate the conflict because that's the nature of the system.
In families with married parents, any or all members of
the family can be dissatisfied with where they live or some
other aspect of their situation. The courts don't claim they
have the right to dictate to that family how they should
resolve their conflict. In this case, the Supreme Judicial
Court respected the divorced family the same way it respects
the married family, by leaving the decision to them. Until
more courts do the same thing, more kids will be put in the
middle of the conflict that they just want to end.
STEVEN VOGL, Hampton, N.H.