Who Is More Likely to Get Custody: a Mother or a Father?

The question of which parent is more likely to get custody is an ever evolving one. Once, there was a policy of ensuring that the mother always received custody, called the “tender years” doctrine, which assumed that young children needed to be with their mothers in their early, developmental years. But more recently, courts and lawmakers have realized that the mother is not always in the best position to provide a safe and healthy environment for children.

Today, courts ask which parent is most likely to provide a safe and stable environment for the case. To know which parent is most likely to provide what is in the best interest of the child, the court will ask:

Which parent is most financially and physically able to provide for a child's essentials, like food, medical care, shelter, and clothes?

What is the mental and physical health history of each parent?

How old is the child, what is the state of the child's physical/mental health, and (if old enough) does the child have any preference?

What is each parent's job? What are their personal habits, both good and bad (e.g., clean, healthy, excessive drinking, history of violence)?

Does the child have a particularly strong emotional bond with either parent? How likely is that parent to foster an emotional bond between the child and the other parent?

Will the child have to adjust to a new school, city, quality of life, and friends if living with one parent versus the other?

What are the wishes of each of the parents?

Has either parent brought false or malicious charges of child abuse against the other parent? Did one parent walk out and abandon the children? Is the bid for custody about lashing out at the other parent or truly trying to spend time with the child?

After asking these types of questions, the court will decide which parent should be given primary custody and how much visitation is appropriate. As you can see, the questions are gender neutral, so no preference is given under the law to either parent.

Nevertheless, it would be naïve to assume that no biases still exist in the minds of judges. As a result, while the law may not support custody and visitation determinations based on gender, courts will, sometimes, base decisions on their own preconceptions that mothers are more nurturing than fathers. Nevertheless, fathers have every right to ask, and argue for, full custody of the children. As a result, the modern trend is to award partial custody to both parent, where the child spends part of the week with one parent and the rest with the other. This arrangement works best when the parents live close to one another geographically, but in some instances it may be possible to share custody by allowing the children to spend large blocks of time at one parent's home (like summer and winter breaks), and the rest of the year with the other parent.

If you are trying to obtain custody of your children, you should contact a local attorney to assist you with the process. Not only will the attorney be able to keep you from running into legal issues that could affect your custody bid (like refusing to allow the other parent to visit with the children), but they can also guide you through the process and provide you with the strongest possible case for custody.

Provided by HG.org

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case.

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