Other than the death of a parent, there is likely no more disruptive event in the life of a child than a contentious child custody battle waged by parents unable to agree on a healthy parenting arrangement. Historically, the tender years doctrine used by courts presumed a mother, unless proved unfit, was the best caregiver for children of certain ages. Decades of legal decisions awarded children to mothers, with fathers providing child support as ordered, and often losing a personal relationship with their child in the process.
Today the best interests of the child factors have replaced the tender years doctrine. While it can be argued that a bias toward mothers persists, especially in custody battles over young children, this seeming bias is usually based upon examination of factors that consider the well-being of a child.
Best interest factors apply a genderless approach to custody decisions. Upon examination, if a father or a mother fails to meet requirements with regard to supporting the health, welfare and emotional development of a child, or encouraging relationship with the other parent, a custody determination for the opposing parent might result.
Times have changed, but the truth is still that children need what each parent has to offer. If divorcing with children, remember to keep their best interests in mind and set your personal grievances aside. And remember to work with an experienced attorney to protect the future of your family by arriving at a custody arrangement that is best for your child.
As a Buffalo divorce lawyer for 28 years, I have devoted myself to solving the problems that affect families throughout the Buffalo metropolitan area and Western New York. As a family law attorney, I make it my goal to create a partnership of trust with my clients. People put their trust in me to handle cases that can potentially have a long-lasting impact on not only their lives, but the lives of their family as well.
Alexandra M. Rockwood is an Associate Attorney with the Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis & Associates and has been with the firm since early 2020. She practices primarily in the areas of matrimonial and family law. Ms. Rockwood graduated magna cum laude from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in History and minors in Political…