Because of its complex nature, myths and misconceptions about divorce abound. People are quick to give advice or opinions about the process, even if they know very little about divorce overall. As a result, misinformation spreads like wildfire. Today, our divorce lawyers in Lebanon MO are here to look at a unique aspect of this misinformation – a so-called “myth” about divorce that may actually be true.
The “Myth”: The Mother Always Gets Custody Of The Children
Traditionally, women fulfilled the role of caregiver. In the event of divorce, it seemed only natural that mothers be given primary custody so that they could continue to fulfill their parental responsibilities as nature intended.
In recent years, our culture awareness has shifted to acknowledge the important role both parents play in a child’s life. Rather than automatically granting custody to the mother, the court now forms custody rulings based off of the best interests of the child. Since the court now starts from a blank slate to determine the ideal arrangement, many people now consider the concept of the mother automatically being awarded custody to be outdated and inaccurate.
Why It May Actually Be True
While it is true that the court now acknowledges the important role a father plays, the fact remains that mothers are still often awarded primary custody. In fact, Divorce Source estimates that mothers are awarded custody in 90% of all divorce cases.
The fact that mothers are better equipped to care for babies and young children is a simple biological truth. Because of their innate maternal instincts and certain biological behaviors (such as breastfeeding), many mothers naturally assume primary child-rearing responsibilities while their children are young. In turn, fathers often naturally gravitate toward the role of “provider” so as to allow mothers to devote more time to caring for their children. Once this pattern is established, it is easy (and common) for parents to continue to follow it as their children grow.
What Happens During Divorce
The court should award custody based off of an unbiased evaluation of which custodial arrangement will best benefit the child. While the court does not begin the process with a bias in the mother’s favor, the pattern that we just discussed often leads the court to award primary custody to the mother.
If the mother has performed the majority of the child-rearing responsibilities leading up to the divorce, the children may be accustomed to her meeting their primary needs. The divorce will inevitably disrupt the children’s lives a great deal as it is; the court will most likely try to minimize further disruptions by keeping their primary caregiver constant. This means that the court may be more inclined to award mothers primary custody and award fathers with visitation rights.
How Fathers Can Be Awarded Primary Custody
While mothers are often the natural choice for primary caregivers, fathers may still be awarded primary custody in certain situations. Typically, in order for a father to receive primary custody of his children, he must demonstrate to the court that he has upheld significant child-rearing responsibilities thus far in his children’s lives. Alternatively, he must prove to the court that the mother is unfit to care for the children.
Trust Deputy & Mizell, LLC To Protect Your Interests
If you are facing a custody dispute, hiring an experienced divorce lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks is an important way to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. If you are looking for a divorce attorney in Mid-Missouri, contact Deputy & Mizell, LLC to schedule your free initial consultation. Our team will be here to serve you however we can.
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