We have all heard it before: Mothers are more likely to get custody of their kids after divorce. If you are a father and have started talking about dissolving your marriage, it’s only natural to be concerned about what that step will mean for your future relationship with your kids.
Do moms really automatically have the upper hand in divorce proceedings? Is it even worth going to bat for joint custody of the children?
Moms’ Custody Advantage is a Myth
In short, it is untrue that mothers will have more custodial rights than fathers. No custody laws in the U.S. give mothers preferential treatment when determining an arrangement. Sadly, this misconception can lead fathers to be less forthcoming in voicing their desire for joint custody, which allows both parents to share physical control of their children and parenting decisions. Determining custody is all about focusing on a child’s best interest. The court knows that good dads deserve to share parenting roles.
Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody
Unless the court finds that one parent is unfit to share custody of the kids, courts most often award parents joint physical and legal custody. Factors in determining custody arrangements include:
- Parents’ living situations
- Past alcohol or drug use
- History of abuse or neglect
If, in reviewing these factors, the court determines that one parent is a direct harm to the children, then the other parent will most likely get sole custody. In those situations, the other parent (known as the custodial parent) will have full control of the kids’ physical and legal rights.
Joint custody is the preferable arrangement whenever possible. Of course, children benefit from seeing both their parents regularly when living situations change. They also benefit from co-parenting – having two perspectives in the decision-making process instead of one. In addition, when both parents have an active role in their kids’ lives, neither has to deal with the challenges of single-parenting.
Getting Legal Advice
Gone are the days in which married parents fill two very specific roles: the mothers as the children’s primary caretakers and the fathers as the breadwinners. So, there should be no reason that one parent blends into the woodwork when it comes time to talk about custody.
If you are a dad who is entering the divorce process, be sure to speak up when it comes to decisions involving your kids. At the end of the day, their best interest is top priority. Voicing your hopes and goals ensures all parties – your attorney or mediator, your soon-to-be ex, and the judge – are aware of them and can make informed decisions. Feel free to call (866) 567-1004 with any questions about divorce, custody, or another family law issue.