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Are Courts More Likely to Grant Child Custody to Mothers Than to Fathers?

child support in Louisville KY

Parents who are seeking a divorce will need to come to a decision regarding many issues related to the marriage, most importantly, perhaps, who will have custody of a shared child and what the visitation rights of the other parent will be.

When parents need to make a child custody decision, they are strongly encouraged to reach the decision together outside of the courtroom, and to submit an agreed upon plan to the court. When parents are unable to work together to decide, however, they must turn to the court, where a judge will be responsible for issuing a decision.

If a case goes to court, one fear that many fathers have is that a court will automatically side with a mother. Here’s a look into the maternal preference in child custody cases in Kentucky.

Maternal Preference Is a Thing of the Past

Courts used to favor mothers in child custody decisions, strongly believing that a child separated from their mother was something that would be detrimental to all parties involved, in part because of a mother’s “natural ability” to nurture a child. This was referred to as the Tender Years Doctrine, and existed well through the mid-1900s.

Today, all states have gender neutral child custody laws, which means that giving preference to a mother in a child custody case based purely on the fact that she is a woman and the child’s mother is no longer permitted. It should be noted, however, that while courts are not legally allowed to consider gender of the parents when making a child custody decision, some judges may continue to do so, perhaps unconsciously.

Factors the Court Considers in a Child Custody Case

If courts aren’t allowed to consider parents’ genders, what do they weigh when making a child custody decision?

Per Section 403.270 of Kentucky Code, the court is required to make a child custody decision that is within the child’s best interests. To determine the child’s best interests, a number of factors are considered, including:

  • The wishes and preferences of the child (when the child is of an appropriate age and maturity level to express said preferences);
  • The relationship that the child maintains between each of their parents;
  • The child’s adjustment to community, home, and school;
  • The wishes of the parents;
  • The physical and mental health of all parties;
  • Any acts of abuse or domestic violence;
  • The amount of time and effort each parent has spent nurturing and caring for the child;
  • The relationship the child maintains between any others in the home, such as a sibling; and
  • More.

Keep in mind that if the child involved is an infant, the child’s need to breastfeed may be considered in weighing the child’s best interests, but it is not considered independently of other factors and therefore is not a gender preferential consideration.

Improving the Outcome of Your Child Custody Case

Both parents in a child custody case, regardless of gender, have an equal opportunity to seek custody of their child. Things that may help your case include demonstrating the court that you are the child’s primary caregiver or are responsible for the child’s wellbeing the majority of the time; testimony from other family members, members of the community, and the child’s teachers and other caregivers; and showing the court how you will be able to balance caring for the child while also continuing to work and provide.

Our Attorneys Are Here to Help You

Seeking custody of a child is a very emotional experience, and one that may leave you feeling both confused and exhausted. When you contact the law offices of John H. Ruby & Associates, our Kentucky child custody attorneys will provide you with the legal advice and support you’re looking for. Our talented child custody lawyers understand what you’re going through, and care about the outcome of your case.

Please use the online form on our website to request more information, or call us today at 502-895-2626.