With the rise of the number of divorces in recent times, it is quite common to find couples fighting bitterly over child custody. Needless to say, the entire process of battling is intensely traumatic for both parties, especially the children involved. Decisions like who the children shall stay with and the visiting time given to the other parent to visit his or her own children are not just difficult to make but are also emotionally trying. Ultimately, one parent always ends up as the veritable visiting guardian to the children. However, with time, the notion of child custody has gone through a number of changes.
As with most other issues, even the concept of child custody had a patriarchal bias till about the middle of the nineteenth century. Fathers were universally regarded as the sole parent figure who could take proper care of their children. This was probably because women were yet to emerge fully into the field of being "single mothers". However, with the increasing intensity of the female emancipation movements, things took a different turn around the early years of the 2oth century. By then, mothers slowly began to be recognized as the more responsible and caring parent, as the fathers spent more and more time outside the household, working for their livelihoods. However, things took a negative turn once again.
Gradually, fathers began to be sidelined when the question of the well being of children arose and now, in a sort of reversal of roles, mothers became the ideal parent as far as safety, protection and emotional security of the child was concerned. However, this too became problematic with indignant fathers claiming that child custody should not be decided on the basis of the gender of the parent but that the characters and capabilities of each parent must be taken into account.
Post the Great War things took a different turn altogether. The arguments considering gender bias were finally paid heed to. Until then, custody had been a completely gender based issue. But now for the first time, the concept of joint custody came into being. Both parents would have an equal share in the lives of their children. There are two types of custody that is legal custody where parents have an equal right to take decisions concerning their children. The second is physical custody where the children divide their time equally between both parents.
Therefore, quite understandably, more emphasis has been given to shared legal child custody and not to physical custody. A general pattern is indicated here. Women, quite unfairly under certain circumstances, are being given more preference when it comes to child custody whereas the fathers are left marginalized in the entire legal battle. In a bid to address such prejudice, men are now willing to take up a number of legal and socio-political actions, thus ending such unfairness for good.