Do Courts Favor Mothers for Child Custody?

Family Law Group Tampa, FL

Child Custody

It used to be assumed that children would stay with their mothers after a divorce, but this is no longer automatically the case. In fact, some states have even passed legislation explicitly stating that there should be no custody preference to women over men. Custody laws vary by state, and you will want to review your state’s guidelines with the help of an experienced child custody or family lawyer as you begin custody proceedings. However, the general practice today is that courts award custody based on a child’s best interests. 

In many marriages, the systems that a couple has relied on for parenting do place factors surrounding the “best interests of the child” in favor of the mother. However, if you are a father seeking custody, understanding how a court determines these factors may help you to present your parenting skills in the best possible light.

Which Parent Is the Primary Caregiver?

Courts will evaluate which parent has been the primary caregiver for the child. They will try to determine who has been responsible for meeting most of the child’s needs, including basic needs like feeding, bathing, and safety, as well as social interactions, medical care, maintaining schedules, and more. 

Even though more women work full-time than ever, they are still more likely to hold more primary caretaking responsibilities. If you are a father seeking custody, you will need to demonstrate that you have taken on as many of these tasks as possible, as you would be responsible for handling these tasks on your own after the divorce.

What Is the Parent-Child Bond?

Courts will also carefully consider the relationship between parent and child. Since a mother typically feeds her baby from birth and may take more time off for maternity leave when the child is an infant, that bond may seem to be closer with the mother for young children. 

A father who stays involved in early childhood and takes on basic caretaking responsibilities may be more likely to prove to the court that he knows how to care for small children. Maintaining that bond as the child grows is also important, as you will need to demonstrate that you can provide educational and social resources as your child develops.

Who Will Preserve Meaningful Relationships?

Many states presume that the best interests of the child involve having meaningful relationships with both parents after a divorce. Courts may consider whether a parent is likely to support a healthy long-term relationship with the other parent. If you are seeking custody, it is best both for your child and for your chances of custody that you stay civil and courteous with the other parent. 

Whether you are seeking sole custody, joint custody, or generous visitation, seek help from a family law group in Tampa, FL for legal advice during divorce proceedings. Firms like the McKinney Law Group have helped numerous families with their custody agreements.