An article in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle contained the results of a Pew Research Center study that would surprise many people: 8 percent of all American households with minor children now have single fathers raising those children. That is an all-time high and a surprising number when you consider that only 1 percent of such households had a single father raising children in the 1960’s.
This new information simply bolsters what I have been telling clients for years now – the old days where courts are heavily biased in favor of mothers raising children are over. Courts have long been prohibited by law from using gender as a factor in deciding which parent determines the residence of their children. This, however, did not stop judges from disproportionately placing children with their mothers.
So what has changed? A substantial shift in traditional gender roles has occurred over the last several decades. In many two parent households, both parents are working. In a growing number of American households, the mother is the primary income earner, with the father working fewer hours or acting substantially as a “stay at home parent.”
Texas family court judges have long sought to keep children in divorces and child custody disputes in a situation that closely resembles the status quo. In other words, judges want to keep the amount of change in a child’s life to a minimum. Therefore, if a child’s mother is working outside of the home for 50+ hours per week and the child’s father works primarily at home, where he has been the primary caretaker of that child, the father is likely in a stronger position to argue that the child should primarily live with him.
The key for any divorce attorney or child custody attorney is to identify those factors which weighs in favor of the client being the primary caretaker for their children and to collect evidence which supports that position. As I have repeatedly emphasized to my clients, that is a much more successful strategy than attempting to point out the weaknesses of the other parent.