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Does a Successful Career Hurt Moms in Custody Wars?

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By Minara El-Rahman on November 23, 2009 8:50 AM

A new shift in how custody wars play out in court is occurring. Working Mother writes about how a trend with stay at home fathers coupled with working mothers has caused courts to grant primary custody to the fathers instead of the mothers. This has been primarily because of many mothers have a successful career.

Men have been affected by layoffs more than women during this recession. This means that more dads are staying at home with the kids. In fact, it was men who lost 74% of the 6.4 million jobs that have been lost during this recession.

In the meantime, moms who have a successful career are not seen favorably in family court: "A mother's career can be a liability in custody battles," says Laura Allison Wasser, a Los Angeles-based lawyer quoted by Working Mother. In fact, men who request sole custody of the children during a contested case prevail 50% of the time.

 How Is Custody Typically Awarded?

  • What are the child's "best interests"?

In the context of child custody cases, focusing on the child's "best interest" means that all custody and visitation discussions and decisions are made with the ultimate goal of fostering and encouraging the child's happiness, security, mental health, and emotional development into young adulthood.

  • Who is the child's "primary caretaker"?

When determining which parent has been the primary caretaker of a child for purposes of a custody decision, family courts focus on direct care-taking responsibilities such as bathing, grooming, dressing, meal planning, laundry, etc.

  • What are the child's preferences?

The wishes of a child can be an important factor in deciding custody. The weight a court gives the child's wishes will depend on the child's age, maturity, and quality of reasons.

  • What are the religious backgrounds of both parents?

Courts must assess if there is actual or substantial harm in the practice of each spouse's religion. The court may restrict a parent's First Amendment or parenting rights if that parent's religious practices might harm the child in the future.

  • What are both parents' non marital sexual relationships?

 In most states, affairs or nonmarital sexual relations are not supposed to be a factor in deciding custody unless it can be shown that the relationship has harmed the child or is likely to harm the child in the future.

For more information on child custody, please visit our Related Resources links below.

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