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Beyond stereotypes: Does gender matter in child custody cases?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2023 | Child Custody

Historically, family courts favored awarding custody to mothers, assuming they were naturally better caregivers. Fathers, in turn, were often relegated to visitation rights. However, societal norms have shifted in recent decades, and the legal system has adapted to the changes.

Courts now strive to base custody decisions on the child’s best interests rather than outdated stereotypes. In other words, gender is not a determining factor when deciding child custody.

What constitutes the child’s best interests?

The modern approach emphasizes parental abilities and the safety and well-being of the child. Child custody decisions assess factors like:

  • The child’s wishes (if they are of age and capable of making such decisions)
  • How the child interacts and relates with each parent or other parties who may affect their best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school and community
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • Whether there is a history of child or spouse abuse, domestic violence or parental kidnapping

Since every situation is unique, the court will consider other relevant factors that will promote the child’s welfare and best interests.

Courts prefer shared custody arrangements

Increasingly, courts favor shared custody arrangements, where both parents are actively involved in the child’s upbringing. Shared custody allows children to maintain strong relationships with both parents, promoting emotional stability and well-being.

Therefore, sole custody granted to one parent is highly unlikely unless overarching factors suggest otherwise.

Protect your parental rights

Despite progress in the legal environment, gender biases may still exist. For instance, mothers may face scrutiny if pursuing careers or non-traditional roles, while fathers may encounter skepticism when seeking primary custody. As such, it is best to seek informed guidance to help you navigate the murky waters of custody proceedings.