Jim Cook Helped Win Joint Custody for Millions of Dads, but Was Never Allowed It Himself

Jim Cook, often called “The Father of Joint Custody,” passed away recently. Time Magazine described Jim’s work in 2003:

As late as 1971, the Minnesota State Bar Association’s handbook advised lawyers and judges that “except in very rare cases, the father should not have custody of the minor children. He is usually unqualified psychologically and emotionally.”

When James Cook, a Los Angeles real estate lobbyist, divorced in 1974 and sought shared custody of his son, “the judge thought it was preposterous,” he recalls. “He told me, ‘I don’t have permission to do it.'”

Outraged, Cook and some friends organized the Joint Custody Association and in 1979 pushed through the California legislature the first law encouraging joint custody. All 50 states eventually followed suit…..

The Los Angeles Times wrote a nice obituary for Jim–James Cook dies at 85; fathers’ rights advocate helped write joint custody law (3/12/09).

In addition, NPR did a couple nice memorial pieces on Cook, interviewing Jayne Major, executive director of Breakthrough Parenting Services, and David L. Levy of the Children’s Rights Council. Both worked with Cook.

Sadly, Major said that while Cook whelped win joint custody for millions of fathers, he was never allowed joint custody of his own son. Major said that the judge in his case saw him as a “troublemaker” and denied him joint custody.

To listen to the NPR interview with Major, click here. To listen to the NPR interview with Levy, click here.

To learn more about Jim Cook, click here.

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