For years, when a couple divorced, custody issues really weren’t a factor in an overwhelming majority of cases. It was just assumed that a mother’s maternal instincts were powerful to the point that they easily overshadowed a father’s instincts. That’s not the case these days, however. Even if a case begins with the assumption that a mother will maintain custody, they don’t always end with Mom going home with the minor children. Does this mean the biology has changed? Have women suddenly become less maternal or is it possible that roles, beliefs and reality have shifted to the point that a mother is no longer “less” in society’s eyes if she agrees to some type of shared custody or even if she agrees the father should have primary custody? The answer is as complicated as the question.
Anytime there’s a shift, no matter how subtle, in society, it usually affects the individual family units that make up that society. Over the past twenty years, careers have shifted and it’s not all uncommon for a man to work out of the home. It seems as though every career now has the optional “freelance” label, which means the freedom to work when, where and how one chooses. Divorced fathers are increasingly seeking that kind of freedom so that they can take a more hands-on approach when it comes to raising his children. While no one doubts a woman’s nurturing and instinctual tugs, that shift can’t be ignored.
There are two types of custody: sole custody, which one parent makes the decisions on behalf of the children and joint custody, where both parents work together to make those important decisions.
Parents are working closely together in their shared responsibilities to their children. In New York, physical custody of the children is ideally decided between the parents; however, it’s only if they cannot come to an agreement that the courts will step in and decide on behalf of the parents.
Courts will have to decide key considerations, such as the child’s primary residence and who will maintain primary custody. Courts no longer award the woman sole custody because she’s the mother. Courtswant to know how the children will be raised, educational expectations, faith and religion and more. They’re interested in how each parent interacts with the children, which parent takes a more hands on approach and if they’re old enough, the input of the children at the heart of the case.
There also are considerations such as abuse in the home, whether it’s substance, verbal or physical abuse, the parents’ work schedules, if there are new spouses or new relationships that include sharing the home and anything else that will affect a child’s well-being.
Of course, child support issues as well as who provides healthcare insurance are a priority and again, the courts prefer to see the parents, with the help of their family law advocates, work out those details. After all, the judges and lawyers aren’t in the home with the family.
For Seidner & Associates, our goal is to best serve those in need of legal representation. Divorce and custody issues are never easy but when the focus can remain on the children, those are the most successful cases. While there may remain some assumptions in courts across the country, the reality is that mother’s gaining full custody isn’t the sure thing it used to be.
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If you’re going through a divorce and are unsure of what to expect, our team of compassionate Long Island family law attorneys stand ready to provide guidance and solid legal representation. Give us a call today to discuss your options, your rights and those of your children.