mothers/custody

Nicole - posted on 02/18/2011 ( 28 moms have responded )

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Should the mother always be considered first as the custodial parent? If so, why?



Does a mother have to be a really bad parent for the father to receive custody? Is this fair?



In my opinion: if the parents cannot work together, than the parent who gets custody should be the parent who is able to do the best job in raising the child, and who has the best social supports in place. I think that the other parent should get access, generous access even, and that should be adjusted to ensure that custody/access arangements suit the child and are in their best interest.



Edit: To cut out my personal example because I don't want to have it distract from the more general questions I am asking

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[deleted account]

"Are mother's more innately suited to raise children?"

This comment is something I'd like to respond to. Not all mothers have that innate ability, wish, or desire to raise children. I know I personally fall into that category. While I love being a mother, I don't possess that innate urge & yearning to really MOTHER. If that makes any sense at all. I fully admit that my husband is a far better parent than I am. He has more patience and tends to take care of preparing the daily lunch/backpack, drops my son off to school, etc. I feel more career-oriented and the provider. it doesn;t make me less than a parent, but I though that once I became a parent I would have that natural innate nurturing. I don't. I love my son more than anything, but if something should happen to our marriage, it *may* be in my son's best interest to live with his Daddy.

Iridescent - posted on 02/18/2011

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No, the mother should not always be considered first as the custodial parent, but they are regardless of how bad a parent they are. Our situation - mother is a pedophile, gave her first two kids fetal alcohol syndrome, shaken baby syndrome in her first, neglect in both of them, and malnourishment. It took nearly death in them both for her to lose parental rights. Yet when her next 2 were born, they let her do it all over again! It took 17 months to finally get custody, and only because she gave it up freely, despite proof of her hurting ours the same ways. How is this right? How is this good for society?

It is not fair that the father is a second citizen in custody. For every application, new doctor, school thing, etc, we have to not only bring the kids and our ID cards, we also have to bring documentation that we have full legal and physical custody. Do I as a mother of my other children EVER have to do this? NO! Why is my husband expected to? Simply because he's male? In trying to get medical assistance, the social worker stated "you need to bring those children back to their mother. You have no right to be their custodial parent." She proceeded to ignore our application for six MONTHS despite a 30 day deadline (never a problem on my apps for my biological children with the same worker) because of him being a male custodial parent. We had to report it to state level social services to get anything done, and the medical costs we were required to rack up during that time were ours out of pocket, cash, when they qualified for assistance. What a waste! Next up was our application for child support. Again, a 30 day deadline. It got sat on for 15 months! Because he is a male. Again. I seriously thought my husband was lying when he was saying he was struggling so much, but the applications for my daughter were done at the same time, with the same worker, and mine were completed for over 2 years now and his are JUST getting finalized.

Should the mother have access? No. Would you bring your babies to see their father in prison? Not me. I won't do it for the mother in the same position. It is absolutely not in their best interest. In fact, we'd like all parental rights for her to be terminated.

So why does my husband have to struggle this much to be a parent to his kids? Why do we risk kidnapping charges every trip to the doctor unless we have a copy of their custody orders with? It is just plain stupid.

Tara - posted on 02/19/2011

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Okay Nicole, now I've read all the posts, I would say you're doing the right thing.
If your son's life would be less disruptive and you feel confident that all his needs would be more than adequately met by living with his dad and step mom throughout the week, than do what you feel is right for your son.
Kids are resilient, he will adjust, he has the love and caring of not just two parents but also of a step mom who is willing to act on your behalf in a way that is respectful to you as his mother, but also helpful in her role as stepmom.
If you have a legal document changed to incorporate this new agreement, please make sure that it is left open so that it can be changed and altered as your and yours sons needs change. And if you can squeeze time in during the week to see him take him swimming, to the library etc. than it really doesn't matter where he sleeps most night, as long as he has the love and kindness of everyone involved.
:)

Meghan - posted on 02/18/2011

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but should financial support be lumped with emotional support? My ex has more money than me...I live with my mom so we get by and if anything horrible were to happen, I would have that back up....I can understand if someone was on the street or ass broke-is that what is meant? That could clearly be an issue. But I offer way more emotional support than my ex could, money or not

[deleted account]

I think it should be whatever parent can offer the most stability and emotional support. Yes, financial support is important too, but I think I'd rather the kids have all they NEED (without all the wants) and be emotionally stable as opposed to having all their WANTS (on top of - or sometimes instead of - their needs) and not being emotionally supported. I really hope that made sense...



My hubby and I are raising his oldest daughter from a previous relationship. We have her full time. No need to hash it all out, so we'll just say that OUR daughter is best with us. I know a lot of people lately who are actually in this position and quite honestly it baffles, me, but I never knew any stepfamilies before I married my hubby and became a stepmom, so it may not be as uncommon as I had originally thought...



If you feel it's best for your son to be with his father while you are in school, then own that decision. Also, understand that it will most likely be very hard for you to get majority custody back once you are out of school. I'm in no way saying don't do what you have planned, I am just pointing out that courts tend to like to keep the status quo (meaning they like to keep things as they are over long periods of time).



In the very end, what needs to be done is what's right for the child. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again, it's NOT mom's show, it's NOT dad's show - it's the CHILD'S show, and when both parents can work together for the best of their child, then it's good.

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Jennifer - posted on 10/07/2011

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No. Joint custody should be default unless the other parent is proven unfit/abusive. In many places, the mother does have to be a bad parent or make very poor choices for the father to receive custody. No, it is not a fair system in the least. In some courts, the party that takes the children and keeps them away from the other before court (or enrolls them in school or other agency) is the one that wins at least the temporary custody. The court hearing for temporary custody is only 1 hour total, so the lawyer has to know what the most important issues are and bring up only that in his 30 minutes of allotted speak time or you are screwed. I honestly believe that custody battles over children can bring out the worst in people. There are people who have committed suicide because of the loss of a child...or worse. If all courts approached this issue with joint custody as a set default, then all that remained would be the burden of hard evidence to change that...and not just verbal accusations, going by who has the child at the time or sex of the parent. That would be one less thing people could fight over without proof. I am the step-mother of two wonderful little girls (and the mother of three others). Their mother put my husband and their two daughters through hell because she didn't want joint custody. She told him they were "her" children, not "their" children and honestly it appeared she was just using them as a tool to hurt him and to receive child support. When it went to final court, after her having temporary custody for a year because she had the girls when they went to temporary custody court, she and her man were not working (hadn't been for months) and living off unemployment and child support. In the end, severe neglect won the case for us...but it is not the ideal situation for the children due to the youngest being an extreme mommy's girl and the oldest being a daddy's girl. Their original joint custody arrangement that he pushed for would have been far better for the children (once she got on her feet of course)...even if it may have needed to be changed up a little. Their original agreement, when I came into the picture, was that he would have the oldest and she the youngest with each having decent visitation with the other child...which is also what the children wanted...but they also did not want to be separated all the time. I am sure something could have been figured out so the children had both parents equally. I wish that my two daughters I had coming into the marriage had half the father my husband is...but they have had to deal with the deadbeat situation. I believe our society today relies far too much on entitlement...in all the wrong ways. A mother is NOT naturally entitled to have more access to her children than a father and that belief should be corrected in our youth. Children are NOT tools but treasures. Parents should ALWAYS love their children enough to work together with eachother (yes, even through yelling and screaming if need be...just take it away from the kids' earshot or USE A MEDIATOR) to ensure that the children have what they need no matter where they are and any child support system present should reflect that. A person should be able to buy and send some necessary items for the children rather than always trusting the other parent to use the money wisely. We had to provide nearly everything for the children as well as pay more than our rent in child support every month just to have to watch the children wilt away, pee in a yard (because the shed had no working facilities), sleep in a shed (which they all lived in at one time), keep headlice off and on for six months, lose weight to a dangerous level and come in too small/stained/dirty clothing, etc. Out of over $6500 in child support (yes, we're in the poor class even though he is a hardworking man...the pay here sucks), we saw her get them (when she got about 7k for claiming them on her taxes) one new outfit a piece, one pair of sandals and a pair of swim shoes (which they sent them in instead of their regular shoes their dad bought them). They pawned the girls' games/systems they had when their mom and dad separated...and lost them...followed by telling the children their dad broke in and stole them (we showed them we didn't have them of course). We bought most of the things they needed and threw away most of the trash they came in after taking pictures to show how bad it was.The problem today is that so many parents are too damn selfish to look at what is best for the child(ren). Unless the father is a true deadbeat, abusive, negligent or an addict...he should NEVER have to fight just to have equal time and rights with his children.

[deleted account]

It's so funny how things actually turn out. I had NO desire to have children and actually took every precaution so that didn't happen. When I thought of a house full of children, I had anxiety and wanted to throw up. I've always loved interacting with OTHER people's children, but never thought I would become a mother.

You can imagine how surprised I was, once I got over the initial shock and horror finding out I was pregnant and already 19 weeks along. I'm amazed that I actually have that motherly instinct and innate desire to have more children now.

WEIRD and CRAZY! Thanks for sharing, ladies.

Petra - posted on 02/19/2011

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@Sharon - that's incredibly honest, and thanks for putting that out there. I have a very similar disposition and have, at times, felt like an asshole for it. But like you, I chose a partner who is a wonderful parent and we compliment eachother quite nicely.

@Nicole - girl, you've got serious balls and I really admire your willingness to put your child first. You don't often hear women admitting that it might be in their kid's best interest to live with Dad, temporarily or otherwise. I hope it works out for you! Just make sure to get the agreement in writing and set a time-frame to legally revisit the matter.

[deleted account]

Thank you Dana. I had this 'image' of me as this happy-go-lucky SAHM with a house full of kids, very maternal. It just didn't turn out that way and I was actually bitter, jealous, and depressed for awhile. Well, that's all in the past. Don't get me wrong-I love doing things with my son. We ran some errands earlier and then went for lunch-just the 2 of us. I love snuggles & mother/son moments. But as far as that innate maternal instinct, I just think it skipped me.

Rosie - posted on 02/19/2011

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i think custody should be 50/50 unless there are extenuating circumstances, like abuse or drugs or something. just cause one person makes more money than the other, shouldn't be the determining factor of custody.

Angela - posted on 02/19/2011

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"Should the mother always be considered first as the custodial parent? If so, why?"

No,not at all. Since she didnt create her child all on her own,both parents need to be considered.

"Does a mother have to be a really bad parent for the father to receive custody? Is this fair?"

Well I think its unfair that the courts favor Mother's right off the bat,there basically just telling the father "your just the sperm donor." If the mother is a bad parent at all or even at the slightest,Father should get custody. If the father is a bad parent at all or even at the slightest,The mother should get custody.

[deleted account]

It depends on the situation. What is right for the kid is the way it should go. Over here.... it is automatic 50/50 custody unless there are extenuating circumstances (which would be WHY I have full physical and full legal custody of my 3 kids).

Lacye - posted on 02/19/2011

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No the mothers should not always be granted primary custody. My bf has been having some problems with his ex. It's a long story but here it goes.

My bf and I went down to see the child for the first time after she was born, almost 2 years ago. We go to the DHS office because we wanted to settle the child support so he wouldn't be caught with a shit load of back child support. We come back home and from then until now it has been a living hell. She won't allow the child to come visit us and if we go there we can only see the child for a couple hours and then we have to leave. Now she is saying we can't go down there at all to see his other child because she has a new bf and she doesn't want us down there. She lives with her parents, doesn't have a job, isn't going to school to get her GED or anything. She has called up here demanding more money for things even though she gets child support, we know she is getting it because the money comes straight out of his check every time he gets paid. We are now taking her to court because of the way she has been acting. She won't let his child come up here alone but she let her mother take the child across state lines to the other side of the country. She doesn't even take care of her child, she has even told me that her parents take care of the child most of the time.

So once again, no. The mother should not automatically have custody simply because she is a woman.

Jenn - posted on 02/19/2011

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I think many times, a mother is granted custody (whether full or partial) because they are generally the main care provider when the baby is little, and the courts like to keep things as normal as possible for the child. So if the Father happened to be the one who had been in the role of main care provider, they would likely grant custody to the father. Custody arrangements can also be made based on the requests of both parties - like if they both agree to a shared custody arrangement. Now, having said all this - at the end of the day it's really about what's best for the child. So, let's assume that a mother has been the main care provider of the child, but the father has mounting evidence that she is not caring for the child as she should be (neglecting their needs), I could see the court giving custody to the father.

As for your own case (I'm basing this off of what you said in the other comments since you deleted the original comment), I don't see what's wrong with that situation if everyone is happy with the arrangement. You are able to better yourself so that in the future you can provide for your child - I don't see how that could possibly be a bad thing.

Tara - posted on 02/19/2011

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I think children should be placed with the person who has been their primary caregiver for the majority of their life. Unless of course they have been in a situation that is unfavourable.
I would encourage people to try hard to have a joint agreement so that both parents can play as equal of a role as possible in their childs lives.
I don't think mothers should be automatically assumed to be the best parent. But in most cases it is the mother who is home with the children and it is the mother who has the social supports of family and friends etc.
But not always, and many men get the raw end of the deal when it comes to their kids and custody/access etc.
In Ontario the courts will try at all costs to reach a shared custody agreement, one that includes both parents in most if not all decisions regarding housing, schooling etc.
Good Luck whatever your personal circumstances may be!

Iridescent - posted on 02/18/2011

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I'm so glad I'm not the only one! I'm just so fed up with it. Discrimination is illegal, yet legal.

[deleted account]

Perfectly said Leah! My hubby and I have to carry all sorts of paperwork around too - our custody agreement, my legal guardianship paperwork, and a paper from my hubby (and notarized) stating that I have his permission to make medical decisions for our oldest (my sd) in case of emergencies. It's ridiculous and a waste of paper... Fortunately we haven't had any problems with the schools, but I think that's because one of the office ladies is in a situation very similar to mine and she "gets it" if you know what I mean.

Sal - posted on 02/18/2011

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bravo nicole for thinking of your son first... you are being a good mum, enjoy when you have him but not being to blinded to see what is best for him...no mums should not be the automatic first choice, happy shared arrangments should be 1st, then see who is better equipted time wise, a good home is whats important not who is the parent there

Sherri - posted on 02/18/2011

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I know in our state unless there is a legitimate reason that they now almost always do 50/50 so no parent actually has custody more than the other. It does not matter that parents can't work together they feel it is more important to keep the children equally with both parents as both are an important part of the childrens lives. Most court agreements in our area are all basically the same. Mom - Mon, Dad- overnight Tues, Wed - Mom, Dad - Dinner on Thurs, and then every other weekend with Dad, then mom etc. Once they are in School there is virtually zero reason for parents to even have to see each other as one parent drops off other picks up etc. and now schools give two sets of everything one for mom and one for dad for the divorced kids so that both parents remain informed.

Carolyn - posted on 02/18/2011

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Nicole, do what you feel is best for your son. At the end of the day its his needs that must be met. If you feel sharing that load with a capable father will make life better for everyone, you will all be that much happier.

Do what you need, and kudos to you for acknowledging what your son needs, and your ex's rights and ability to care for his child!

Carolyn - posted on 02/18/2011

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i think it really should depend on many other variables.

the parent who is better able to provide a financially and emotionally stable environment for the child should be the one to gain custody if it is a fight for full custody. Gender should be taken right out of the equation. I cant for the life of me understand why a working father, with a good personal history, involved with his children etc, would not get custody over lets say, a mother on the welfare system for example, simply because she is mom.

I am really dumbfounded by some of the decisions the courts make.

If dad is willing to step up to the plate, he should be given equal consideration and it should boil down to who can provide the better life for the child and all that entails.

unfortunately there are so many greedy people who will fight for custody whether or not they are better suited to raise that child, or have adequate means to meet that childs needs, just to avoid paying, or gain child support payments.

Nicole - posted on 02/18/2011

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Transition periods are so hard, no mater what the transition is. I have struggled with these thoughts for the past few months, trying to wrap my head around where I stand on whether or not I should have the right to overrule my ex-husbands decisions about the big decisions in our son's life. I have that legal right at the present, and that is what I think I should give up now that my ex has his life together.

Meghan - posted on 02/18/2011

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I know where I live, there is a huge movement back towards father's rights. My ex has gotten a lot of leeway (that based on his behavior,) he shouldn't have gotten. I don't think that it is right for the mother to automatically get rights-there are lots of shitty moms and really great dads. But seeing as there is a societal excuse for men, and a biological bond for woman it generally makes sense. The RIGHT thing for BOTH parents to do would put their pride aside and do what is really best for the babies. I struggle with it often, but in my heart, I know I am doing what is right from him...if J was raised around his father we would have some serious problems. Until my ex starts being consistent and puts our son first, I will continue to play a very active role, and mediate everything that happens.

Amie - posted on 02/18/2011

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Not all mother's are. Child's best interest. Wherever and whoever that is with - that is where the child should be. End of story.

It will be hard on you too, don't discount that. Probably harder than it will be on your son, since he will be with his dad.

Nicole - posted on 02/18/2011

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I guess what I am really asking is: how significant is gender is determining who the best parent will be/who will be best suited to meet the child's needs?

Are mother's more innately suited to raise children?

Nicole - posted on 02/18/2011

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My logic is that Kindergarten is half day, in order to get him there I would need to pack all of us on the bus as 6am. Then I would need to have someone else watch him after 11am, until 5pm when I got back into town.

His father's girlfriend can wake him at a more decent hour, drop him off, be on call if the school needs her, and pick him up with very little disruption to her day and she wouldn't need to take 10 buses a day to do it.

How come you think this it not the right thing to do?

I think he is better suited to look after our son's needs throughout the week than I am, and I think it's only fair to offer him that option, so that our son isn't going through the stress of spending most of his day in transit, and I am not going through the stress of being exhausted from that much running around every day

I would be considering doing it for as long as my ex was better suited to meet our son's weekly needs, and want to adjust when that stopped being the case

Katherine - posted on 02/18/2011

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If you are going to school to make a better life for you and your son, then I would say it's the ok thing to do. Not the right thing because he is going to have one hell of an adjustment to make.
How long do you plan on doing this for?

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