While mothers in Wisconsin and other parts of the country are still likely to get more time with their kids in the event of a divorce, dads are no longer being kept out of the parenting loop. Over the years, the tendency to side with the mother has shifted to the point where more courts are encouraging divorcing parents to share parenting duties instead of automatically opting for sole custody.
While circumstances can vary, courts today often have an initial inclination towards two-parent child custody for legal purposes. However, for logistical reasons, equally splitting residential custody is not as common as splitting legal custody equally. Even so, a Seton Hall University law professor believes residential custody does not automatically favor the mother. Also, according to a 2014 study, 80 percent of mothers were granted sole custody in 1980. By 2008, that figured dropped to just over 40 percent.
The study also found a significant increase in instances where both parents spend an equal number of nights with children post-divorce. Societal changes may have contributed to the tendency to favor mothers as well. In the ’60s and ’70s it became more commonplace for women to take advantage of no-fault divorce laws and seek custody of any children a marriage produced. The importance of father-child relationships has since become better understood as well. Even dads who never married a child’s mother and those without significant financial assets are generally faring better today when it comes to custody decisions.
It’s also becoming increasingly common for a family law attorney to help a client work out mutually acceptable custody arrangements without the need to let the court have the final say. As long as divorcing parents are willing to be reasonable, it may also be possible for related issues, such as creating a co-parenting plan and visitation schedule, to be negotiated without court intervention.