In most divorce cases, the mother gets custody of the children. This is not because of a bias in favor of the mother, but rather that the parents usually agree to this arrangement. There is nothing in the law that favors one parent over the other based on gender. In fact, courts almost always prefer to see both parents involved in the children’s lives as much as possible. If you are the mother, you cannot assume you will get custody, and dad should not assume that he does not have a chance. Both sides start off with equal standing, and the court will consider many things in deciding what is “in the best interest of the child/children”. There are many factors that can tip the scales in a custody battle.
How does the court decide who gets custody? The decision is based upon what the court considers is ‘in the best interest of the child’. Some of the things the court will consider is which parent has participated in the children’s activities, a parent’s past which reflect negatively on him: mental illness, criminal convictions, alcoholism, family violence, or drug use.
The courts use the term “conservator” rather than custody. Generally, both parents are “Managing Conservators”, which means that each has all the rights any parent except that one of the managing conservators has the ‘exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child/children’. The ‘possessory conservator’ is the other parent, the one who will not have primary custody of the children, but will normally have regular visitation.
Visitation is generally at any time that the parents agree. However, since divorce couples rarely always agree, there is a ‘standard possession order’ that controls when the parents do not agree. This is the standard “1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend” with certain holidays and extended visitation during the summer. We can discuss the details during your consultation.