The Arkansas Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday overturning a lower court’s child custody order that prohibited an Arkansas man from having overnight visitation at home with his son while the man’s live-in boyfriend was in the home.
Up until now, child custody rulings have typically favored married couples over cohabiting couples, because transient boarders in a home can pose an unknown risk to child welfare, and because research demonstrates time and time again that the most stable environment for a child is with a married mom and dad. This court ruling undermines what we know to be good policy for the children of Arkansas. In effect, it says whether a parent is married or not is irrelevant to the child. That’s utter nonsense.
Some people say these situations need to be examined on a case-by-case basis. The fact is when it comes to child custody as well as adoption and foster care, the State of Arkansas has a number of ‘blanket rules’ it uses. These rules are based on what the state believes will contribute the most to child welfare. If we know children fair better in one type of home as opposed to another, why would we put them in anything less than the best home possible?
The Arkansas Supreme Court has effectively said that marriage doesn’t matter, and the real victims are the innocent children caught in the middle of custody disputes.