Child custody is no longer automatic for working moms.
According to the Huffington Post, working moms, especially those who out-earn their spouses, must now fight for custody of their children. Since as many as 30 percent of wives earn more money than their husbands, the problem of assigning child custody is growing.
Many years ago, custody was simple: since mothers stayed home and conducted the majority of parenting tasks, they retained custody. Later, when women found workforce equality, they were faced with 50/50 custody arrangements after divorce. More recently, psychologists have questioned whether 50/50 arrangements are beneficial for children and have suggested that the courts assign a primary caregiver. The result is that moms who spend more time working outside the home than dads may face the devastation of ‘losing their children.’
Several strategies may help working moms retain custody. According to the article, since judges must make quick decisions based on empirical evidence, it is best to reach an agreement without going to court. To this end, moms should try to envision dads as part of the parenting team rather than an adversary. Another helpful tip for working moms is to adjust their work hours prior to the divorce and be visible to outsiders as a primary caregiver. For example, working moms should attend parent-teacher conferences and take the kids to their lessons and practices. A journal that documents child- and home-related activities can be very helpful.
Child custody disputes may be the most emotionally taxing component of divorce. However, mediation may be effective in keeping the custody negotiations out of the courtroom. A family law attorney can be beneficial to working moms throughout this stressful time.
Child custody is often one of the most contentious aspects of any divorce proceeding. When both parents want custody of the children and cannot reach a compromise, the court will issue a child custody order to settle the matter.
Like most states, Ohio bases child custody decisions on the “best interests of the child.” There is no presumption that the mother (or the father, for that matter) will get primary custody.
Instead, the court bases its decision on the child’s overall “best interests,” as guided by the following factors:
- The individual wishes of the child’s parents
- The child’s own wishes and concerns, if the judge feels the child is mature enough to form a well-reasoned decision regarding custody
- The child’s relationship with his or her parents, siblings and other important people
- How well the child has adjusted to his or her school, home and community
- The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the custody arrangement
- Whether either parent is more likely to honor the court-approved visitation or parenting time rights awarded to the other parent
- Whether either parent has failed to meet child support obligations
- Whether there is any history of child abuse in the family
- Whether one parent has denied the parenting rights of the other parent
- Whether either parent has established, or is planning to establish, a residency outside of the state of Ohio
In some cases, the court will make a determination that shared parenting is in the best interests of the child. In doing so, it will look toward the following factors:
- The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly
- Each parent’s ability to encourage the child to love and have contact with the other parent
- Any history of domestic abuse, child abuse or parental kidnapping
- Whether the parents have sufficient geographic proximity to facilitate shared parenting
- The recommendation of the child’s guardian ad litem, if the child has a guardian ad litem
The above factors serve as a guide, but court’s ultimate decision will be based on the unique elements of each individual case.
Child custody hearings can be a stressful process, but by understanding the guidelines, you can be better prepared to present your case.
Often, the parent that has the child during the summer learns information from the child that causes the parent to be concerned about returning the child to the school placement parent for the beginning of the school year.
If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend that you document the facts and the circumstances that are creating your concern. Secondly, I recommend contacting an attorney immediately to determine your options to file an emergency motion or at a minimum a motion for modification of your parental rights and responsibilities.
As you may already be aware, the courts process motions very slowly. If you have grave concerns about your child returning to the other parent for the beginning of the school year, emergency motions must be filed as soon as possible. If you do not return the child at the appointed day and time, in violation of the court order, a contempt motion may be filed against you and the police may be called to enforce the current order.
Getting a divorce is challenging on multiple levels, and it can be especially difficult financially. The divorce process necessitates making determinations about how assets will be divided, and, if there are children involved, how to pay for their needs while managing two separate households.
Maintaining a standard of living for children
Often, parents hope to maintain the standard of living their children were accustomed to before the divorce. While doing so may be helpful for the children, it can be difficult to sustain. It may be necessary to adjust your and your child’s lifestyles to keep your finances in good shape and make ends meet.
Parents can put themselves on the right track by determining how much is spent on each child per year and creating a budget accordingly. Parents can begin this process by reviewing their finances as they relate to the children from the past year; in addition to day-to-day necessities, be sure to include the costs of activities, such as sports teams or camp, as well. It is also important to plan for unexpected costs, such as emergency medical bills.
If child support payments are involved, those expenses will need to be negotiated between the ex-spouses. Typically, child support is calculated by a judge and may be adjusted as things change in your and your former spouse’s lives.
Looking toward the future
You will also want to be sure you plan for your children’s future. The parent who is paying child support needs to have a life insurance policy so that the children will have those benefits if that parent dies.
Statistically, children with divorced parents have less financial support from their parents, according to the Journal of Family Issues. If you plan to help pay for your child’s college education, make sure you start saving early. Do not assume that your former spouse will take care of this funding.
Divorce poses many difficulties and concerns. When you are determining child support and negotiating how best to co-parent with your former spouse, it can get even more complicated. It is wise to consult an experienced family law attorney who can help you and your children get off to a good start.