Over the course of history women have been given custody of children after a divorce more often than men. This used to be seen almost as an automatic right. This has changed slightly in recent times though, with Fathers given significantly more rights when it comes to looking after children post-divorce. This applies to both custody and visitation rights if their ex-wife has been given custody. A Fathers role in the development of children is taken much more seriously than in previous times. Family Law states that Fathers have equal rights to Mothers and each decision should be made on its specific merits.
Statistics show that women get custody more than men though. What is the reason for this? It could be that there is still some bias towards women by judges, who assume that Mothers make better parents. On the other hand it could just be that Mothers tend to more often be in the position where the children living with them would be more appropriate.
After a divorce there are many factors that are taken into consideration when deciding which parent should get custody of the children. Each parents employment status can be a very important factor. If one parent works full-time and the other doesnt work at all, it may be deemed best that the children live with the parent who does not work. This is because (s)he has more time to be able to devote towards the children. This may be one reason why women gain custody more often than men; it is more common for women to be stay-at-home parents than men, although this is not as common as it once was. A decision is most likely to be based on this reason if the situation was the same when the couple were married, and this parent has spent more time with their children as a consequence. The decision can in some cases be made the other way round, with the parent who does work being deemed to be in a more financially stable situation. This is not always the case because this parent will usually be required to make maintenance payments to help the other parent bring up their children.
The situation each parent finds themselves in and the stability of this situation is also important. This can depends on employment as well as other factors, such as lifestyle. If one parent has medical or psychological problems, then they may not be deemed the best parent to bring up the children. If one parent has re-married it could work either way. It may be seen as a negative to have someone else playing a part in their upbringing so soon after their parents have separated, but it could also be decided that this is a better family environment to bring children up in. A criticism of the system is that too much of the decision comes down to the opinions of a particular judge, and no matter how much Family Law stipulates what should happen, everyone has certain biases.
Andrew Marshall (c)