Data from the US Census bureau shows that almost three-quarters of women who are mothers are now also a part of the workforce. In California and several other states, many of these women also earn more than their husbands. These changes, while beneficial for women and their families, have also had the effect of changing how the court determines child custody when a divorce takes place.
Traditionally, when divorcing, mothers were more likely to be awarded physical custody of the minor children and the fathers were given the financial responsibility of child support and awarded specific visitation times. However, with women spending more time away from home to meet their professional responsibilities, it is often the case that the father spends more time with the children. In many families, prior to the divorce the couple may have decided it was more beneficial for the father to remain home and care for the children while the mother worked. These changes in the family’s traditional structure have begun to be reflected in child custody decisions. More often these days, fathers are given shared or joint custody, and sometimes even full custody based on the courts review of the family situation.
It is often quite difficult for a mother to accept that she is no longer the sole caretaker for her children. The best case scenario is if the divorcing couple can make an arrangement for custody and visitation that is supportive of the child’s needs and acceptable to both parties before the case goes to court. Sometimes couples seek assistance from professional mediators in resolving areas of conflict. If an agreement is reached, it is then prepared for review and approval by the judge.
If the couple is still unable to agree, the judge will review the specifics of the case and make a ruling as to child custody and support. In cases like this, it is beneficial for the parent seeking custody to be familiar with the criteria that the court applies when making child custody decisions. California courts continue their efforts to keep the best interest of the child at the forefront. Since the traditional care-giver roles have changed within the family, the decisions of the court when determining child custody can be expected to change also.
Source: Huffington Post, “Child Custody and the Working Mom,” Lisa Helfend Meyer, June 1, 2013