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Do mothers face a child custody legal backlash?

Once upon a time, when a Massachusetts couple decided to file for divorce, the outcome was highly predictable. The husband and father would be the one to leave the family home, and the wife and mother would retain the bulk of child custody rights, including physical custody. She would also receive monthly payments for child support and alimony, while the father was often relegated to the role of distanced provider and occasional visitor in the lives of his children.

This, however, is no longer the case. In today's family court, an emphasis is placed on parity. Judges are tasked with balancing the rights of each parent with the needs of the child. Some believe that the social shift that places emphasis on a father's role may also leave mothers at a disadvantage.

When judges focus on creating a custody determination that is "fair" to both parents, the outcome is often incredibly unfair to the children involved. This is especially true in cases in which the mother has provided the bulk of the childrearing duties throughout the marriage, and is asking for the right to continue to do so after the union ends in divorce. To grant "equal" custody in such a case is to remove children from the stability that they have come to expect, and place them in the care of a parent who may not be able to take on that same level of care.

It may be the case that Massachusetts family courts have become so focused on what is "fair," that they have lost sight of what is actually best for the children who will have to live under their child custody determinations. For mothers who anticipate a custody battle aimed at "equal" parenting rights, it is important to structure a legal argument that demonstrates that they have provided a disparate level of care thus far, and expect the ability to continue shouldering the bulk of parental responsibilities. Doing so requires a great deal of preparation and understanding of family law and courtroom procedure.

Source: Huffington Post, The High Price Mothers Pay When Filing For Divorce, Laura Wellington, Oct. 23, 2013

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