It hasn’t always been the case, but today, fathers are just as likely to obtain custody as mothers. There are a number of factors that play into the decision, so before you assume that you won’t be able to obtain custody because of your gender, it’s important to understand why a judge is more likely to give a mother custody of a child of a certain age.
As a father, you’re aware that very young children need nurturing that fathers are physically unable to provide, such as feeding with breast milk. Since this is the case, it’s not uncommon for mothers to receive custody if a child is under the age of five, although nearly every state has now eliminated this rule.
It’s still possible that a judge could favor a very young child staying with a mother for breastfeeding purposes. It’s also possible that you and your spouse could come up with an arrangement that gives her time to feed or care for the child while sharing custody rights equally or equitably.
Equal parental rights
Custody is something that you, as a father, have every right to ask for. Your child is as much yours as your wife’s, so you can ask to have custody during your divorce. Since both men and women tend be wage-earners in today’s era, the answer for who has primary physical custody might be as simple as seeing who works less or who has a schedule more suited to caring for a child.
For example, if you’re working 30 hours a week from home while your soon-to-be ex-wife works 60 hours in a sales position, a judge may rule that you have more time to spend with your child and therefore should have primary physical custody. Fathers are just as capable of caring for their children as mothers, so with all else being equal, simply having more time for your child could be a fact in your favor.
Race is not a factor
If you believe that your child’s mother may receive custody due to race, you should know that the court can’t consider race when determining the best custody arrangement for a child. This could come up if you are an African American male who has a biracial child, for example.
No two cases are the same, and it’s likely that yours has many factors not included above. Your attorney can help you negotiate a parenting plan before heading to court or support your arguments if custody requests go before the judge.