In the past, it was the norm for mothers to get custody of the children when they got divorced. This was typical in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and even the 1990s. After all, back then, stay-at-home mothers were common and they usually fed their children, bathed them, drove them to school and back, took them to extracurricular activities, and put them to bed. As the primary caregivers, judges were hesitant to disrupt children’s routines, so mothers would gain custody of their children in the vast majority of divorces.
Today much has changed in the realm of child custody. Now, judges do not automatically award custody to the mother. Instead, when the parents can’t agree on custody, mothers and fathers are given equal consideration in child custody matters. What has sparked the massive shift? While divorce attorneys can only speculate, we’re confident that the number of women in the workforce today is a huge factor.
Women at Work in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are 74.6 women in the civilian labor force, nearly 47 percent of U.S. workers are women, women own almost 10 million businesses, and 70 percent of women with children under 18 work. What’s more, “Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 today, compared with 11 percent in 1960.” Surely this shift plays a role in child custody and how cases are decided upon.
While these changes in the child custody landscape are well-acknowledged by divorce attorneys and family law judges and other experts, they are not necessarily known by fathers who are quite accustomed to the way things were when they grew up. As such, it’s common for fathers locked in child custody battles to give in too quickly and let their wives have primary custody of their children instead of seeking a joint custody arrangement.
In Nevada, there are three types of physical custody (referring to where the child spends their time): 1) joint physical custody (both parents have the children at least 40% of the time), 2) primary physical custody (one parent has the kids over 60% of the time), and 3) sole physical custody (one of the parents has the kids 100% of the time, but supervised visits may be allowed).
If you’re a father and you thought for sure you’d be forced to accept option #2 where your ex would get the kids over 60% of the time, please don’t throw in the towel. Assuming domestic violence is not an issue, we strongly encourage you to consider seeking joint physical custody, an option that promotes a healthy co-parenting relationship in most instances. We invite you to contact Ford & Friedman to learn more.