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Do courts favor mothers over fathers in custody decisions?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2020 | Child Custody |

There is often a presumption that courts will favor mothers over fathers in custody cases. While this may have been how things worked in the past, courts are changing as society changes. One of the reasons why mothers used to always get custody of the children in a divorce is because in society at the time, mothers were almost always the main caregiver. The husband worked while the mother stayed at home, taking care of the children. 

Things have changed, though. This is not always the case anymore. Today, parents often share in the care of the children because both parents work outside the home. This has led to changes in the legal system and the way courts decide custody. 

Fair and equal 

According to the Mississippi Bar, courts operate under the assumption that mothers and fathers are equal. Instead of focusing on awarding one parent rights over the other, the court focuses on what is best for the children. 

Prior laws 

In the past, though, the preference of mothers over fathers was commonplace. Prior to 1983, courts did award custody to mothers in most situations simply because they were mothers. However, in that year, there was a change due to a court case that brought equality to the process. 


There are some situations where the court may give preference to one parent over the other, but they are not related to gender. For example, if there is a history of abuse or domestic violence with documented proof, then the court will consider this. If a court finds a parent violent, then the other parent automatically gets preferential treatment as the better choice for custody.