If you asked someone in the 1960s who would get the children in a divorce, they would almost undoubtedly say that the kids would live with their mother. The father would likely have to provide child support, and he may have the right to see the kids on the weekends or on holidays, but they wouldn’t live with him most of the time.
Is that still the way that things work, or have the rules changed in 2021? What do you need to know as a parent who is getting divorced?
The court’s outlook has certainly changed
What has shifted is the way that the court looks at the child’s best interests. Those have always been the focus, and the old assumption was that they were better off with their mother. Today, though, many studies have shown that time with both parents is actually the most beneficial. Therefore, the court tends to prefer joint custody in almost all situations, unless there is a very clear reason why it should not be granted — such as abuse.
When making this decision, the court will consider both sides of custody. The first is physical custody, which pertains to the child’s living situation. The second is legal custody, which handles key decisions like where the child attends school or what doctor they see. Both types are often divided, but it is possible for sole custody to be granted in one manner and joint custody in the other.
Regardless, if you’re getting divorced and you want to maximize the time you get with your children, it’s very important to understand your legal rights and the options you have.