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Working Moms and Custody Battles

The legal battle begins when couples divorce. Because of the shift in traditional gender roles, custody and spousal support may now be more complicated than ever. It is estimated that 30 percent of working wives make more income than their husbands, resulting in the father staying at home and taking care of the children. Dads are often the primary caretakers and are awarded the alimony and custody of children as frequently as women.

The working moms in Colorado may be interested to learn that women typically tackle double duties. In addition to being a breadwinner for the family, the wife may still perform considerable household tasks, such as grocery shopping, homework or extra-curricular activities for the children. However, mothers contemplating divorce should be aware that the physical absence at home puts them at a disadvantage during the divorce proceedings. The father may be rewarded for being at home during the day, even if he is less active in his household chores.

The family law courts now recognize that the traditional roles have shifted and favor the children having one principal caregiver. When awarding custody, the court leans toward the parent who spends more time with the children. This new approach results in 50/50 shared custody or full custody given to the father if he assumed the role of a primary caregiver during the marriage. While the law cannot discriminate against working women, the process can lead to women feeling stigmatized or penalized for losing custody.

Some suggest that custody agreements work most effectively if they are reached out of court. Adjusting one's priorities before filing for divorce may also become one of the more important components in a custody battle. Women may consider reducing the amount of hours they work to spend more time with the children long before the process begins. A family law attorney may prove helpful when contemplating any divorce proceedings.

Source: Huffingtonpost Divorce, "Child custody and the working mom", Lisa Helfend Meyer, June 01, 2013

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