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Is it True That Mothers Are Favored in Child Custody Cases?

 Posted on April 11, 2024 in Family Law

MI family lawyerStatistically, when a child’s mother and father divorce or break up, the mother is somewhat more likely to get primary custody. However, Michigan’s child custody laws are written in a gender-neutral way so that both parents are to be treated equally. The way the statute is drafted also accounts for same-sex parents who are going through a child custody dispute. Legally, there is to be no gender-based bias in child custody decisions. So why do fathers often receive less parenting time? The reasons why mothers often receive more parenting time are complex. The factors Michigan courts use to determine what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child tend to favor the child’s primary caregiver - who is often the mother. A Novi, MI child custody lawyer can help you understand your rights as a father and fight to prevent an unfair arrangement.

Child Custody Issues For Fathers 

Prior to the Child Custody Act of 1970, mothers of young children were explicitly favored in custody decisions. This is no longer the case. There is now a presumption that it is in the child’s best interests to have a strong ongoing relationship with both parents. Courts have begun to recognize the importance of a father in a child’s life.

This has led to an increase in 50/50 parenting time arrangements in Michigan. While traditionally, mothers stayed home to raise the children and fathers worked, this has changed. A majority of households with children have two working parents. This means that childcare duties are more likely to be divided evenly between mothers and fathers. There has also been a marked increase in the number of men who become stay-at-home fathers.

Rather than considering the gender of each parent, the court is to explore a series of factors to determine what is in the child’s best interest. Factors the court should consider include:

  • The bond between each parent and the child - Fathers today are more likely to spend time bonding with and caring for their children. This bond should be respected. 
  • Each party’s capacity to provide love, guidance, and stability - Fathers who are involved in their children's lives can often show that they are equally capable of loving and guiding their children. Mothers and fathers today are likely to spend an equal amount of time providing childcare. 
  • Your child’s preferences - What your child wants matters. Many children love their mothers and fathers very much and have a strong desire to spend time with both parents. 

Generally, the only situation where a mother can be favored over a father is when a child is under a year old and is breastfed. Infants may be placed primarily in their mother’s care for the purpose of allowing the child to be nourished through breastfeeding. However, this is temporary and the father may get more parenting time once the child has been weaned.

Contact an Oakland County, MI Child Custody Lawyer 

Elkouri Heath, PLC is committed to protecting the rights of both parents. Our caring Novi, MI child custody attorneys have dedicated their entire careers to helping families through issues like divorce and child custody. Contact us at 248-344-9700 for a complimentary consultation.

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