Modern child custody laws, and the views that the courts hold in re: the subject are much different than what they used to be in the United States. The most dramatic way that this change can be explained is by considering that courts used to prefer sole custody, and this custody was often given to mothers. Today, courts tend to prefer shared custody so that a child affected by a custody arrangement spends at least some time with both parents.
Why has this changed? What caused the shift in thinking? There are a lot of different factors that contributed to this more child-focused approach.
The best interest of the child
Decades ago, a child’s best interests were not often scrutinized in individualized ways. The approach that a court took was much more about economic interests and the ways in which time and labor were traditionally divided within American society.
That has shifted over time so that courts now aim to focus on what is really in an individual child’s best interests and what would be best for them moving forward. In the early 20th century, courts tried to determine which parent would be more nurturing to the child. This is why mothers were often given preference, especially of young children. Mothers were seen as the parent who would raise the child, while fathers were seen as a source of economic support.
But then two things happened that change this view. The first was that women became far more involved in the workforce, so it was shown that both parents could both be economic providers for their children. The second change was that child development experts discovered that it was much better for a child’s development if they had a relationship with both parents, provided that both parents in question were fit. As a result, nowadays, shared custody is the general preference and is usually seen as best for a child.
With that said, what is best for one child might not be best for another. If you and your child’s other parent are dissolving your romantic relationship, be sure that you know about all of the legal options you have at your disposal so that you can advocate for their unique best interests during negotiation or litigation with the assistance of a legal professional.