Is gender a factor when making child custody decisions?

Posted by Lauren S. CohenNov 02, 20210 Comments

Child custody is often the most contested matter in divorce proceedings.

Parties who cannot agree must defer to the courts, and many fear prejudice based on gender.

What custody arrangement serves the child's best interests?

Ideally, children should benefit from equal time, love and support from each parent. However, due to economic, social, and health factors, not all parents are able to function equally once the family unit divides. Therefore, judges must conduct a comprehensive analysis to discover the most appropriate custody arrangement.

What does “totality of the circumstances” mean?

There is no mathematical formula for courts to follow when ruling on custody. To determine the best interest of the child, a judge considers many factors, including the following:

  • Is each household safe and child-friendly?
  • How have the parties previously handled parenting responsibilities?
  • Is each parent physically, emotionally and financially stable?
  • Is one parent more able to meet the needs of the child?
  • Is there evidence of parental alienation or volatility?
  • What are the child's wishes?

Due to traditional gender roles, many people assume it matters in custody disputes. In truth, there are many different types of families, and courts are only interested in the best outcome for children.

Are there considerations for LGBTQ parents?

In 2020, The New York State Senate passed amendment S.432A, which prevents courts from considering sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression when making child custody decisions. Additionally, judges cannot prohibit a party from pursuing a transition.

To ensure a happy and stable life for children, divorcing parents need to understand the legal process and work together to secure a fair custody agreement.