Do the courts consider a parent’s sex in custody decisions?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

There’s an idea in our society in custody disputes that the courts will favor a child’s mother more often. Unless this is the wish of you and your family, a court will take many factors when making their decision. None of these factors listed include the sex of the parent.

The reality is that what a court ruled in your neighbor or coworker’s custody case won’t necessarily be the same thing. Their family likely had their own unique factors that led to the creation of their own unique agreement. Your custody agreement should also be as unique as your family.

Getting to know your family

Unless there is domestic violence, substance abuse, or another parental detrimental factor, the court is going to want to know more about your family. Some examples of things the court will want to know includes:

  • Community involvement: Your child’s involvement in community activities is among a court’s first considerations if entering an order for them to live in a different home would take them away from that involvement.
  • Education: It’s likely that you have a vested interest in your child’s education and so do the courts. Your child’s proximity to their school and which home environment will help them succeed most in the classroom are additional determinants.
  • Relationship with the child: The court will also want to learn about your child’s relationship with both of their parents, as well as their siblings when determining who they will live with. A judge may even ask your child for their preference but remember, just because living primarily with one parent is their first choice doesn’t guarantee that’s what a court will rule.

Awarding custody based on the uniqueness of each family is a more precise way of determining custody than simply giving the mother custody. Doing so requires a court to get to know a family to learn about their lives to create a favorable custody agreement for parents and children.

Whether a parent winds up with sole or joint custody, they have unique rights when it comes to time with their children. This is regardless of whether they are the mother or father. You should never feel that your rights as a parent are limited by your sex in your custody case.

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