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More Fathers are Getting Custody in Divorce

November 19th, 2009 · No Comments

A couple years ago I put out an article on my website titled “More Fathers are Getting Custody” and have provided substantial material and information on the subject of child custody for fathers (I’ve done the same on child custody for mothers).

I noticed recently an article with a similar title called “More Fathers are Getting Custody in Divorce” appeared on the New York Times website. A question is asked at the end of this article, “If a mother works more, and a father less, is that a logical reason for the children to live with him?” This article references another article by Working Mother Magazine called “Custody Lost,” which told stories of breadwinning working mothers who lost custody to the father (some of which were stay-at-home dads). The opening paragraph mentions, “people inside and outside the courts say that the growing number of stay-at-home dads and breadwinner moms means more working mothers are fighting an unprecedented uphill battle.” I comment on these two quotes below.

Based on the article above, it looks like others agree that more fathers are getting custody. One of the reasons for this more recently being the economic plunge which has affected men more than woman in the workforce. As a result, more dads are at home with the kids while mom goes to work. Inevitably in this scenario, dad spends more time with the children than mom. So, “If a mother works more, and a father less, is that a logical reason for the children to live with him?” I don’t think so but the fact is that has been the logic the family court has used for decades in considering custody awards under the “best interest of the child standard” (this generally favors mothers who often work less or are the stay-at-home parent). Regardless of who works and who stays-at-home, divorce calls for a restructuring of the family post-divorce and to make the presumption that a working parent is not as fit as a non-working parent is absurd. Just as the “Tender Years Doctrine” was wrong to presume that a mother because of her sex is automatically a better parent than the father for younger children.

While it may be true that “the growing number of stay-at-home dads and breadwinner moms means more working mothers are fighting an unprecedented uphill battle,” this has been (is and will be) an uphill battle fathers have faced for decades under “the best interest of the child” standard, which replaced the “Tender Years Doctrine” (a legal presumption that awarded mothers custody of younger children in place for over a century). The philosophy of the courts penalizing the working parent is not new. The article above correctly points out that the family court favors non-working parents over working parents in custody awards. Of course, you will not see such language in the family code, but rather by outcomes of judicial rulings by the court and hearing from families affected by such rulings.

Overall, mothers are still being awarded custody majority of the time and fathers are more likely to face an uphill battle in the family court. It’s fathers who are more likely to be faced with work bias in addition to challenges related to domestic violence and restraining order law abuse, false abuse accusations, target of relocation or move-away cases, and the lingering affects the “Tender Years Doctrine” still has on many of the family courts today.

So, now that the shoe is on the other foot so-to-speak, will we see more working mothers favoring shared parenting arrangements and fighting for joint custody statutes? If fatherless homes are decreasing as a result of more fathers getting custody, will the statistics of children of fatherless homes result in a more positive outcome? I suppose time will only tell. Your thoughts?

Tags: Shared Parenting · Domestic Violence · False Allegations · Divorce · Parenting Plans · Family Law · Judges · Parenting · Child Custody · Custody Battles · Joint Custody · Child Custody Laws · Sole Custody

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