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Are Custody Cases Still Forgone Conclusions?


Traditionally, in the early part of the twentieth century, mothers stayed at home, handling housework and raising the children.  Fathers were in the workforce, making the money to provide for the family.  For marriage breakdowns that ended in divorce, the natural transition was for the father to continue the role of supporting the family financially and the mother to continue managing the child rearing.  The modern day child welfare system emerged when worthy but indigent mothers needed financial support from the state, and providing such support was preferable to removing children from the homes.  States subsequently geared their laws toward awarding mothers child custody, establishing case laws that reflected this preference through trials all across the United States.

Shift toward equal parental rights for custody

An article released by Berkeley Law, University of California called From Father’s Property to Children’s Rights: A History of Child Custody, explains that the courts gave mothers sole rights to custody until the 1970’s when states adopted laws granting equal status for custodial rights.  Up until that time, custody battles were unheard of.  However, as more and more women entered the work force and women’s rights became an issue, this changing social influence affected custody determinations.  The courts also started relying more on psychologists and social science experts for determining custody with the idea of ruling based on what was in the child’s best interests.

Today, New York Courts no longer favor the mother in child custody lawsuits.  They favor couples agreeing to joint custody or they will determine what is in the best interests of the child.  The Court will look at who has been the primary caretaker of the child and which parent will best foster the relationship with the non-custodial parent.

To discuss custody concerns, contact an experienced New York divorce lawyer.