Do Mothers Automatically Get Custody of Children After a Divorce?

Custody of Children After a Divorce

When married couples fall out of love, the most common step many choose is filing for a divorce. If the divorcing parties have children, the question of custody may arise and can sometimes be contentious.

In a state like Alabama, the mother will more often than not have custody of the children while the father has visitation rights. As a result, many people mistakenly assume that the mother automatically has custody over the children after a divorce, but that’s not always the case.

Understanding Child Custody

It is best to have the most amicable divorce for the kids’ sake. Unfortunately, an amicable divorce is not always possible. There are situations where you would feel that your children are in a better place with you than your spouse. 

Under such circumstances, you should consider hiring an Alabama child custody attorney from an award-winning law firm for help proving that the child’s best interests will be catered for in your custody or at least get joint custody. 

Understanding Child’s Best Interests

While mothers are more likely to get legal custody after a divorce, it does not mean that custody automatically goes to them. Traditionally the law favored the mother over the father when assigning custody. But many states have since moved away from that approach. 

While states may have varying considerations when determining who among the two parents should have custody, the standard for determining custody is a child’s best interests. The court looks at several factors to determine the child’s best interest which, in many cases, favors the mother. These factors include:

Primary Caregiver

The first condition the court will look at when determining a child’s best interests is who among the two is the primary caregiver. The primary caregiver is the parent, who is best able to meet the child’s needs, is most willing to take up parental responsibilities, or cares for the child before the divorce. 

Some responsibilities that the court may look at to determine if a parent is a primary caregiver include which parent is responsible for bathing, putting to bed, feeding, playing, and making doctors’ appointments, among other responsibilities. There are some cases where the dad will have most of these responsibilities. 

Parent-Child Bond

The parent-child bond is also a significant consideration when determining child custody. If the child is very young, they are likely to bond with the mother more and will likely depend on the mother for nourishment if breastfeeding. 

Also, the mother is most likely to have more off days when raising her children. The more time a child spends with the parent, the stronger the bond. 

In a situation where the child is a toddler, the mother will most likely have custody. Sometimes the courts can allow a child to have a say in their preferred parent, but their choice may not be final, especially if they are young.

Relationship with Parent

Children fare best when they live with both parents in the household. Unfortunately, divorce steals that privilege from them. But even then, the court will want to consider who among the parents is more likely to have a meaningful relationship with the children. 

The court may examine how the two parties conduct themselves in divorce. The parent trying to pit their children against the other spouse may fail this test. The court-appointed guardian ad litem will also be on the lookout for uncivil behavior in one parent and point out that factor to the court, which could hurt the parent’s chances of gaining custody. 

According to experts, a divorce will have less impact on a child if the adults act with civility and avoid using them as pawns. So whatever you do, ensure you put your children’s best interests before your desire to get back at your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

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