What does the birth of a child mean to you as a father? Perhaps one of the best days of your life which remain etched as a memory and most often become the chosen picture that you place on your bedside table forever. But if you are going through divorce or legal separation, you may be left only with the picture, and your child may have gone away with the so called preferred biological parent, the Mother.
Male Inequality Statistics are way higher than cases reported for women, but all we talk about is Women’s Equality.
Case (as on April 2019):
- The father has been in a legal battle over the custody of his daughter for more than 12 years now
- After the child was born in 2007, his wife moved out of the house
- A petition for judicial separation was filed by the woman, however, was rejected by the family court
- Later the court also allowed the husband’s plea for restitution of conjugal rights
- Earlier, the family court had granted the man overnight access to his daughter
- As per family court order, the father could take his daughter for overnight access for a week during Diwali and Christmas school vacations and half of summer vacation
- After the family court passed the order for the arrangement of shared custody, the mother moved the high court to restrain the father from getting access to the child
The High Court bench while turning down the objection of the wife for overnight access had said:
Today, the mother is apprehensive because the child is reluctant. However, with the passage of time, the child will start enjoying the company of her father.
However, soon after the order was passed the woman’s counsel sought a stay on its operation for appealing against the same in the Supreme Court. The High Court, considering the same, had granted a stay for four weeks.
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Bombay High Court Order
After a decade plus battle to meet and stay with his own daughter, the Bombay High Court dismissed the father’s plea of permanent custody, although, granted overnight access to his daughter.
While rejecting the father’s plea for permanent custody of the child, who was separated from him when she was only 40-days old, a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice A S Gadkari observed,
This is very unfortunate litigation which arises out of a matrimonial dispute. However, it allowed the father overnight access to the child on three Saturdays every month.
The father expressed himself after the order how he wanted to live and enjoy the moments of fatherhood. He quoted to DNA,
Every father wants to wake up with his daughter by his side, but I couldn’t. If she comes to stay with me, I will do everything a normal father does — read her bedtime stories, make breakfast, take her for walks. I will be the happiest person.
Dr. Rakesh Kapur, Child Rights Activist, based out of New Delhi, has been working in this field for several years and has witnessed multiple custody cases in the process. According to Dr. Kapur,
Father’s need to balance the humiliation of proving one’s love for his own child in courts, attending 150+ court hearings leading to loss of economic & social health, psychological trauma of heinous false allegations, with child’s need for a father.
A child growing up without adequate contact with fathers (including overnights) leads to 10 years decrease in life-expectancy (ACE study) apart from very poor quality of life due to much greater propensity for behavioural disorders, low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse etc.
- Under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, the custody of all children below the age of 5 years is given to the mother
- This means, if the mother wishes to brainwash the child, she has sole custody to do so in the first five years, where the child is left not even recognising the father later
- Nonetheless, the father is very much considered a Father when it comes to his financial duties towards the child
- It does not matter whether the man gets to meet his own child or not, he is largely and solely responsible to foot the bills, because he is the Man – the Provider
- Besides, financial responsibilities, there are no considerations towards the emotions of the father; the common reason given being Men are not biologically fit to raise an infant
- We can enlist several cases, where fathers are working, return home and take full care of their children during weekdays as well as weekends
- As a society, we want to talk about Gender Equality, but when it comes to imparting Equal Rights, many disgruntled women prefer to play the Gender Card to achieve their ulterior motives
- Having said so, we also know of many women who have acted mature and never stopped fathers from meeting with children, even if the couple has been separated
- By not allowing access of child to the father, only proves how horribly wrong the woman would have been during the course of living with her husband during marriage
- And what happens to the children in the toss up is pure luck……..and how they choose to adapt to this situation!