The pendulum has begun to steady itself on custody issues regarding fathers. With the nature of more women in the workplace, more fathers have become the primary caregivers. Most judges determine the primary caregiver as the parent who has been responsible for the main parental responsibilities such as feeding and bathing, but also doctor’s appointments, child care, and school activities. Some families share these responsibilities and some mothers and/or father work full time and serve as the primary caregiver, also. So, the court system also takes into consideration if either parent can handle all these responsibilities on their own after a divorce.
Another major factor is the bond between the parent and the child. The parenting roles more often determine the type of bond that is evident. Typically, children look to their mothers for basic needs and look to their fathers for extracurricular support. The more involved that the father is in the early developing years of infancy and toddling, the greater the bond matures. This has to be a natural development and not a forced attribute.
Children are brutally honest, even during social service and professional interviews. No matter what the appearance is, children will tell which parent has been around and which parent has just recently, since the divorce proceedings, started appearing more on the social sense. Other acquaintances, teachers, coaches, and family members may be interviewed as well, so the parent who was obviously absent from school activities, sporting events, and the like, and just recently started showing up will ultimately be found out.
Additionally, the relationship between the divorcing parents is also considered, as is the extended family. If one parent is trying to “poison” the children’s minds by talking badly of the other parent, it may be construed as an unfavorable environment for the children. Likewise, if the grandparents or other extended family of one parent have help provide for the child’s wellbeing, that may hold weight, also.
Of course, the child’s wellbeing should be the utmost importance to be considered. Around the mid-1970s, courts begin to see the shift in breadwinners and stay at home parents. Also, a shift in that both parents assume equally responsibilities on childcare. The preconceived notion that the children will automatically be placed with the mother began to disappear. Although until recently, in the 2000s, more judges and family courts are actually catching up with the law. Statistics in some states show that sole custody to mothers has decrease significantly and joint custody has almost doubled. Another recent trend is that mothers are now being required to pay child support. Sometimes the law presumes that the child will be better with both parents equally, which is usually acceptable.
A father, seeking custody or joint custody, should consult an experienced family attorney. Many fathers have the advice of “never assume”. Even if the father has done everything right, the court ultimately will determine custody. An attorney can explain what factors come into play in a custody issue and may help prove the father is the better, or at least equal, parent for the children. Laws differ from state to state, so you may want to consult an attorney familiar with the laws in the state that the case is in.