A Civil Rights Champion Dies

March 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

We have just lost a champion of civil rights. James Cook, often called the “father of joint custody,” passed away last week in California. His passing is being lamented by prominent fathers’ rights attorney Jeffery Leving.

The people in Illinois have joint custodial rights for parents because of Jeffery Leving; however, he is quick to point out that it was James Cook who was the pioneer in this movement in our nation.

It is 30 years since James Cook initiated the joint custody movement, traveling all over the country to argue the case. As a result of his work, California passed the joint custody law in 1979, and this inspired Jeffery Leving to advocate a similar measure in his home state. Jeffery Leving co-authored the Illinois Joint Custody Act which the Illinois governor signed into law in 1986. Thus Jeffery Leving gave impetus to a movement which has in most states transformed the law concerning the custody of children.

James Cook’s effort has forever changed the treatment of fathers in the courts. When James Cook went through the trauma of divorce, there were no civil rights for fathers. The judge told him that the law did not permit him to grant joint custody. In contrast, about a decade later, New York Supreme Court Judge Richard Lattner regarded joint custody as “an appealing concept” that freed the court from making decisions based on gender.

Even now, the work started by James Cook is not complete as there are still many states that have no joint custody law on the books. Nevertheless, many fathers will be grateful to James Cook who launched the fathers’ rights movement; and to Jeffery Leving who continues to champion the cause, and has increased public awareness through publishing the online magazine LevingsDivorceMagazine.com, founding the non-profit Fatherhood Educational Institute, as well as chairing the government body the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood.

Jeffery Leving expects to go to the graveside service for James Cook on Friday, March 6, 2009.

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Entry filed under: Civil Rights, Illinois Joint Custody Law, Joint Custody, Joint Custody Law. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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