© 2017 by Joseph Cowles

Site Design by Claire Flint Last at Luminare Press.


My mission is to stop the harmful effects of legal custody disputes and to raise awareness around parental equality. There is a simple alternative to custody that would help families, but the gatekeepers of family law protect the volatile arrangement of custody. After all, it is a key revenue driver for their industry. 

Over the past six years, I have met with children of divorce, single parents, family mediators, custody evaluators, parental rights activists, child psychologists, members of the Oregon State House of Representatives, and Oregon State senators. I also participated in a workgroup and a task-force that were both appointed by the chairman of the Oregon State Judiciary Committee.

My takeaway from the research was that end-users of family law feel the harmful effects of custody, professionals in human services understand the harmful effects of custody, and professionals in family law want to protect custody. After all, it is the most lucrative word in family law!

Custody is an entitlement and shame-based word that marginalizes parents and hurts children. When disputed, sole legal custody is awarded to one parent and discriminates against the other. We often hear about gender and race inequality, but we do not hear much about parental inequality. Sole legal custody hijacks parental equality and negatively affects the integrity and balance of the family.


Broken covers my humbling firsthand experience and chronicles my quest to find, and implement, a better solution for families facing separation.

“Attorneys should be like midwives or sherpas in Tibet. We are trying to get people from here to the next chapter with some degree of elegance, with some degree of belief that the future is not going to stink as much as the present does.”


family law attorney


Official Site of Joseph Cowles

Author & Advocate

Purchase Books

My Fight to Stop the Harmful Effects of Custody Laws

By Joseph Cowles

In Broken, Joseph Cowles learns the hard way that custody is an inflammatory concept, which, when disputed, can rip families apart. Moreover, he introduces a better alternative to the current custody laws that put the child first and preserve the integrity and balance of family. This book will be an asset for anyone who is, or has been, negatively affected by custody and is a must read for those who have influence in shaping family law legislation.

The Path to Half
By Joseph Cowles

In Broken Too — The Path to Half, Cowles continues the story chronicled in his first book Broken – My Fight to Stop the Harmful Effects of Custody Laws. Through his personal experience, he learned that custody is a trigger for extensive litigation, when disputed, and it can break families apart beyond repair. Sole custody awards the major decision-making responsibilities for a child to one parent, while legally disenfranchising the other. It is a volatile arrangement— one which should not exist.

In an effort to help families facing separation, Cowles addresses the harmful effects of current custody laws, offers an alternative solution for law-makers, and details his quest to implement the changes in state family law (Oregon). Moreover, Cowles expands his fight to give children the legal right to have a voice in the court of law.


About the Author

Joseph Cowles grew up in Eugene, Oregon with his ten siblings and single mother. Competitive sports have always been his favorite hobby and traveling to other cultures is his lifelong passion. Present day, his favorite activity is spending time with his son and two dogs.



As a licensed attorney of twenty-five years I found Joseph Cowles’ book refreshing and insightful.  The family law system is completely broken and the children in a divorce are often placed in a hostage rescue situation as the parents spar for legal and visitation rights.  The ability of one spouse to play victim in front of the court for strategic advantage is more over played than the flop in soccer.  It remains a mystery why the court doesn’t start with a presumption of joint legal and physical custody when both parents create their offspring and both have a right, until proven different, to parent their children.  Instead, the court assumes the mother is best suited to this task and if a mother cries foul by playing the “domestic abuse” card, then the courts most often limit the father’s right regardless if the allegation is supported by fact.  Regardless of how you view child custody laws, this book will prove engaging and at times challenging to the reader’s sense of fairness.  It’s time to create a new family law paradigm that is based on the child.

Joseph Cowles' book, "Broken" is a riveting read. It begins with  the heart rendering story of a father who just wants equal time and say with his son. Mr. Cowles then navigates the reader through the twists and turns of the biased and hamstrung court system. A must read for anyone dealing with the courts concerning custody issues and for others to get a bird's eye view into this aspect of the justice system. So glad I read it!


Author of “Couples Journey”






Joseph Cowles

Tel: (541) 653-9552 | josephcowlesauthor@gmail.com

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