Parental rights and responsibilities cases are rife with areas of dispute and problems. One area that has been long in dispute is whether or not a father’s custody rights are somehow less than a mother’s. It has certainly been true in the past that by default, mothers generally had a greater chance of receiving full or primary custody of the child(ren) if that decision was left up to the court.
One reason for this is that it used to be a much more common view that a mother was a more important part of the child’s life than the father. Part of this comes from the antiquated perception of family makeup, which does still exist today in some families, that the mother takes care of the children more than the father. Thankfully this perception is starting to change, although there is still work to be done.
It is fully understandable that in some family units one parent works more than the other while the other parent cares for the child(ren) more than the other. The important thing to consider is that once a family divides, roles change. Of course, the truth is, every family is different and that is why it is impossible to apply one standard to everyone.
While one family can fully split all responsibilities to the child(ren), another family might be perfectly comfortable assigning specific primary roles in their circumstance. So it is not wrong for a family who splits up to decide that one parent is the primary custodial parent so that the other parent can work and earn income to primarily support the child(ren) financially. It is for these reasons that being placed in a situation where another entity (primarily the court system) makes the decision for how your child(ren) should be raised is such a frightening prospect.
In today’s society we see mothers being the primary “bread winner” just as much as fathers. It’s no longer possible to hold a singular view on how family roles should be assigned. Along with this evolution, the courts are slowly beginning to adjust their approach. Many states are now beginning to view the best interests of the child as “significant involvement and contact between both parents”. This means that in the courts, a father’s custody rights are becoming equal to a mother’s custody rights.
That being said so are the responsibilities. In other words, whether you are a father or a mother, the most important part of custody rights is your responsibility to the child(ren) and providing for them. The important thing for everyone to understand is that the best thing that can be done to continue to bridge the gap between mother’s and father’s custody rights is for all parents to continue to work on evolving towards truly focusing on what is best for the child(ren).