Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Working women encounter new rules for custody after divorce--and that might be a good thing

Julie Michaud was a working mother in Boston; her husband, Mark, was a stay-at-home dad. When the two divorced, Julie sought and expected joint custody of their two children, 5 and 7. She was shocked when Mark, who asked for primary custody, got it.

According to an article by Sally Abrahms on workingmother.com, some 2.2 million mothers in this country do not have primary physical custody of their children. "Not long ago," the article says, "men usually paid the child support and doled out the alimony. Moms (working or not) almost always got the kids in messy divorce wars. Years of changing diapers, wiping noses and kissing boo-boos gave them the edge. But now the tide is turning."

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Abrahms doesn't take a position, except to note, near the end of her piece, that it's best for children to have good relationships with both of their parents.

I'd suggest that it's still true that mothers almost always get the kids, and that the courts should not take such a reflexive approach. If the growth in the number of working mothers means more fathers get the kids--if judges are forced to judge, rather than dole out the kids by rote--that could be a good thing.

Let's ask our judges to make the decision that's best for the children, not just give mothers the kids.


  1. GREAT response to Aaron Traister on Motherlode.

  2. Now that more fathers are out of work and staying home, I wonder if those fathers are begining to see themselves, for he first time, as primary caregivers. There will not be a real change in the legal relationship between fathers and chidren until those close to the men caregivers openly support men who have taken on this role.