In a divorce, the mother wins custody of the child most of the time, but not always. Several factors come into play when courts make custody decisions. They consider which spouse is the primary caregiver and the relationship a child has developed with both parents. At the core of the issue is always the child’s best interest.
The Best Interest of the Child
If once courts firmly believed that a mother should always keep a child after divorce, that is no longer the case. Several states have made it law not to express any custody preference based on the parent’s gender. Still, the mother is more likely to win in front of the court. Why is that?
There may be many differences between states regarding custody issues, but one thing stays the same: the best interest of the child. The structure and role distribution of marriage favor the mother. This is one of the main reasons why the mother is more likely to receive custody.
The Bond Between Parent and Child
Another central factor in the court’s decision is the bond the child has with each parent. In some states, it is presumed that there is an equally meaningful relationship with both parents. So, the attention is turned to the future. Courts aim to determine which parent would have a better influence over the child in the long run.
If one of the parents has attempted to manipulate the child into harboring ill feelings toward the other parent, chances are they will not receive custody. Psychology experts coined the term parental alienation to account for the strategies employed by one parent to turn a child against the other. Children who fall victim to these tactics will consider the targeted parent as unworthy of their love.
Furthermore, the child’s age can be an important factor in the bonds formed with parents. In the first years of life, the bond is more likely to be stronger between mother and child. After all, the mother is usually the primary source of nourishment and affection.
This is favored by typical parenting roles and societal norms. Usually, fathers need to return to work faster than mothers do following the birth of a child. So, the baby will automatically spend more time with the mother. Fathers perhaps need to make more of an effort to connect with a child in their early years to set a solid foundation for the years that follow.
Determining the Primary Caregiver
Determining which parent is the primary caregiver will play a role in custody rulings. The definition and responsibilities of this role vary between states. Generally, this refers to the person who cared most for the child or who can best meet the child’s needs. This refers to the ability to handle mundane activities of feeding, bathing, and playing, but also dealing with possible crises.
Custody Battle Tips
If it comes to a custody battle between parents, both parties should prepare. Probably one of the best custody battle tips for mothers is to show courage. They should have a firm stance when it comes to the well-being of their child and not retreat. While they are more likely to receive custody, this should not be taken for granted.
To increase their chances of receiving custody, fathers should prove that they can provide better care for the child. It is essential to focus on the strength of their relationship and, if possible, to prove that they were the primary caregiver.
Spouses need to familiarize themselves with the laws of their state regarding custody issues. This can help them outline a clear narrative and focus on key issues. Make a clear point and do not stray off-topic. Also, refrain from trying to turn the child against the other spouse. Parental alienation qualifies as emotional abuse.
Children of divorce often get caught up in custody battles, making the transition to their new family life more difficult. While mothers will be awarded custody of the child in most cases, the father can also have a genuine shot at this. The decision will rest mostly on precedent and determining which parent can provide better care for the child.