Family law strives to keep families together and prefers to avoid removing children from their home. The health, safety and protection of the children under age 21 is of primary importance especially during divorce proceedings. If a parent is hoping to receive full custody of their children, then that parent will need to prove that the other parent is not fit, or does not have the ability to care for your child(ren).

Tender Years Doctrine

The “tender years doctrine” was a legal philosophy that presumes that during a child’s most tender years (between ages 0 and 4) they should be in the care of their mother rather than their father after a divorce. Custody of the children was given to the father after divorce before the 19th century because men were considered more capable of taking care of their children than women. After all, women did not have any rights and were not allowed to work. 

But in the early 19th century, social movements turned the tides. Along with the rights of women came the right to have full custody of one’s child. Maternal custody of children under the age of seven became so common that it seemed almost a standard, with the responsibility for financial support coming from their fathers. But laws have been changing again, and the maternal preference has shifted as more father’s rights groups have argued for a more fair balance. 

Now the courts award custody based on the best interest of the child rather than on antiquated ideas of which gender raises children better. However, in rare cases, child custody decisions are sometimes still affected by the tender years doctrine’s bias. In order for a father to gain primary custody, for example, they must prove that the mother is an unfit parent.

The Child’s Best Interest

So what does it mean to make a decision in the best interest of the child? Don’t the parents know what is best for the child? While many parents do know how to best take care of their children and do a great job, all states have enacted laws or established case laws that legally determine what is best for a child during and after divorce proceedings. Some of these factors include:

  • The child’s age
  • The capacity of the parents to provide a safe home, adequate food, clothing, and medical care to the child
  • The physical and mental health of the parents
  • The physical and mental needs of the child
  • Whether or not there is any domestic violence in the home

Hire A Family Attorney

If you are getting a divorce, and you need to work out a custody arrangement between you and your child’s father, then you need to speak to an attorney who will defend your rights in divorce court. Calling An attorney with many years of experience and many client testimonials that speak to their success and compassion, such as the attorneys you will find at The Law Firm of Victoria, is a move in the right direction. 

The only way to receive full custody of your children is to prove that the other parent is not fit and that it is in the best interest of your children to be with their mother. If you are ready to fight for your children in court, then you will need an experienced attorney who will prepare a strong case and fight for you.