Do you think working moms should lose primary custody?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008
Do you think working moms should lose primary custody?
Fri, 06-07-2013 - 4:45pm

With more women in the workforce they are putting themselves at risk in a custody issue if they aren't home caring for the children: 

While assuming the breadwinner role was a comfortable arrangement during the marriage, this situation can have consequences for a mother contemplating divorce. More often than not, the working mom is doing double duty in the family. In addition to her job outside the home, she is likely performing substantial childcare duties. She gets the kids up and ready for school, arranges playdates with friends, helps with homework, and organizes kids' sports and other extra-curricular activities. This mom manages her kids' schedule with the same precision that she brings to her professional life. Yet pursuing her professional dreams and financial success can put her at a distinct disadvantage in divorce if she has not physically been at home during the day. The hard reality is that while mom may be "doing it all" at home and in the workplace, it is dad who is being rewarded because he is physically at home during the day -- even if he is not performing the majority of caretaking responsibilities.

Do you think that it should make a difference whether either parent works or is at home?  What about if the BM works full time and the SM is at home?

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999

If mom was working full time during the marriage, why in the world would it be taken into consideration during a divorce, it remains a status quo, and unless they are going to start awarding alimony so that she can stay home with the kids, then you are just asking them to live in poverty.  And I would hope that there is no step mom in teh picture so soon after the divorce and I personally would pitch a fit that a SAH step mother, who is not their bio mother, is given preference in a custody dispute.  If you could show me statistics that working fathers should be given custody over working mothers, because they are somehow raising the kids better, I may give a smidgen of thought to the issue, but not until then.  I do believe that in a custody dispute the arrangements during the marriage should be given consideration, if the father was a SAHD or going to school and home with the kids while mom worked, then that should definitely be taken into consideration and weighed in the decision, but mom's work status should not be a penalty to her, especially if that was the arragement all along.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2009

Only the status and competence of the parents, Mom and Dad, should be considered in custody changes. Studies do show that many working mothers are still doing the majority of the child care responsibilities for their children.


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

First of all, I don't know where this article gets the assumption that if the mom works outside the home full time and the dad is the one who stays home with the kids (which is what this article says, not that both are working) that the dad wouldn't be doing a lot of the traditional SAHM activities--I would think if there was a SAHD that he would be the one doing the playdates and the after school activities, etc. 

I am a divorce lawyer and my argument in favor of giving primary custody to the SAHD would be the same that I would use for the SAHM--and it's not to punish the mom, it's the reality of the situation--if the kids are used to being at home with their dad during the day, why should the court change that?  The parent who wants custody has to show that it would be better for the kids.  If a working dad where there is a SAHM tells me that he wants custody of the kids, my first question is what is he going to do about child care and 2nd who has been doing all the things for the kids like taking them to the doctor, carting them around to activities, etc.--if he says the mom, then I'd say his chances of getting custody are pretty low, so the reverse is also true.

I have actually never had a case w/ a working mom & sahd.  I have never heard a judge criticize a mom for working outside the home--where we live it's very expensive and usually both parents work.  And the reality is that even if one parent has been able to stay home with the kids, if they get divorced, both of them probably will have to work unless one is a very high wage earner.

Oh and the stepparent thing does weigh in somewhat--but you wouldn't usually expect that at the time of the divorce because there isn't time to find someone else by then--or the court wouldn't look to kindly on that.  But I have a case where the bio mom had mental illness problems and lost custody.  A few years later, dad got remarried--he was a high wage earner and probably didn't do that much for the kids--the stepmother was really doing most of the child care.  But the judge looked on that favorably because the kids were in good hands.