Is traditional marriage outdated, and — if it is — how does that impact children? According to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center and Time magazine, four out of ten respondents agreed that “marriage is becoming obsolete.” More importantly, most Americans form a negative opinion of modern matrimony only after tying the knot. That often leaves divorced couples with combined bank accounts, assets, and child custody to sort out and divvy up. What influences child custody decisions, and are these influencing factors changing?
What Constitutes Children’s Best Interests
No-fault or uncontested divorces leave parents, and sometimes even child custody lawyers and courts, with the burden of determining child custody arrangements. Although 29% of couples will reach an agreement without any mediation for child custody, bringing in child custody attorneys or judges is much more common. What factors will courts use to make decisions about child custody?
Courts will consider both parents’ income, living accommodations, current parent-child relationships, and proximity to nearby schools and educational systems. Other factors, like whether parents have to uproot children from their current schools and friends, may also be taken into consideration. Child custody lawyers may deliberate over whether joint custody, sole custody, or split custody best suits your child. Keep in mind that joint custody may be physical, legal, or both. Sole custody, of course, entails one parent raising the child; in rare circumstances, judges may award split custody, or divide children up among separate parents.
How Are Child Custody Battles Changing?
Parental and gender roles are converging. As such, more single fathers receive sole custody of their child or children. According to Pew Research, 2.4 million fathers took on sole responsibility for their kids in 2009, and that number is growing. Moreover, Pew reports that fathers spend nearly three times as much of their days raising and caring for children.
Child custody is an incredibly touchy subject. Know what factors influence current custody arrangements and how child custody arrangements continue to change. Good references here.