Do Mother’s Rights Differ from Father’s in Child Custody Cases?
Most people assume mother’s rights hold more weight in child custody cases. This is partly true because the courts did favor mothers in the past. There’s also an assumption that mothers are better parents because of their role as nurturer. The reality is that the law has evolved to allow parents equal rights in custody cases; however, application of the law will require each parent to show their parenting strengths so that the Judge can decide who should be the primary caregiver for the children. At Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices, this is what we tell mothers about their rights during a divorce.
There’s a Difference Between Roles and Rights
With most families in one household, each parent has their strengths and weaknesses with raising children. Often, in a two-parent home, one parent’s abilities make up for where the other falls short. One parent may be more present, while the other provides more financially. The role she has assumed within the relationship doesn’t necessarily define a mother’s rights with custody.
Parents separating doesn’t change the need for both to provide for the child physically and emotionally. When parents divorce, the children then operate in two separate households. This reality often creates even more of a need for the other parent to participate in the child’s life. When children see changes in how things used to function, they may feel they did something wrong.
Don’t Try to Influence Children’s Feelings About the Other Parent
It’s common for parents to get caught up in their feelings and speak negatively about the other parent around the child. They may want to sway the children to favor them over the other parent. It’s never okay to talk to children about adult problems, particularly when it’s related to a divorce or custody case. At any age, pressuring children to take sides causes emotional trauma for them in the future.
Children Need Both Parents
In most cases, children thrive when they have a relationship with both parents. Mental health professionals tell us that each parent fulfills different needs in the child’s life. Of course, if one parent doesn’t provide a healthy environment, that’s a different story. Abuse, neglect, or another party in the household who puts the child in danger is a problem. Be careful in evaluating the situation and choose to do what’s in the best interest of the children.
The bottom line is that when it comes to child custody and divorce, mother’s rights are no higher or lower than the father’s. Legally speaking, each parent starts with a level playing field and the court makes custody decisions based on the facts of each case. If both are good parents, then they’ll most likely share joint custody, with one parent awarded the right to decide the child’s primary residence.