As More Women Become Primary Breadwinners, More are Paying Child Support
The last 50 years have seen dramatic strides for women, as they have moved into professions once dominated by men, and many have become the primary earners in their households. As that trend has developed, though, so has another—more and more women of divorce are being ordered by courts to pay child support, as more and more “stay-at-home” dads are getting custody of minor children.
Before the “sexual revolution,” the long-held assumption, written into the law in many states, held that the mother was biologically more inclined to be a nurturer. Under the so-called “tender years doctrine,” courts would routinely grant physical custody to mothers, construing it to be in the best interests of the child. That is no longer the case.
The “tender years doctrine” has been categorically rejected in states across the country. Courts no longer simply assume that placing a minor child with his or her mother is “in the best interests” of the child. When there is evidence that minor children have spent most of their waking hours with a stay-at-home dad, and that the father has been responsible for the child’s upbringing, and has established himself in the role of the caregiver and nurturer, the preference is to give custody to the father. Because non-custodial parents customarily pay child support to the custodial parent, more working and professional mothers are being ordered to pay child support.
Courts don’t automatically grant custody to the stay-at-home parent at the time of the divorce, however, but look at all the circumstances involved, and put arrangements in place that are in the best long term interests of the children. But courts prefer that the parent who had the most impact and day-to-day contact with the children retain that role after the divorce. As a result, the parent who had primary responsibility for meeting the children’s financial needs during the marriage will often have that responsibility after a divorce as well.
Contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates
At the law office of Lyons & Associates, we represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters, including child custody and child support. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-575-9777.