Should the bank balance determine child custody?

It isn't uncommon for people to divorce and not be able to agree on child custody and support issues. And this is a dilemma Minnesotans and individuals throughout the United States have undoubtedly faced. However, when finances come into play, that's another problem most individuals face.

When a parent cannot afford a court battle and the other can, sometimes the parent with limited means gives in to the parent of greater means. But should the parent who can better afford to raise a child do just that?

Money might make a person better equipped to support the child financially, but it doesn't buy good parenting skills. While women traditionally are the primary parent, most do not earn what their husbands do. In fact, women still earn only 77 percent of what men do. For women who abandoned their careers to raise their children, finding a job that pays enough to support a family after a divorce is tough.

It is not uncommon for a woman to give up a custody fight because she cannot afford to sustain it and is ordered to pay child support to her child's father, who now is the custodial parent. Child support began as a way to assist the custodial parent who had less money to house, feed and clothe the children. It was not meant to supplement a wealthier parent.

Parents, usually women, are increasingly finding themselves losing custody of their children because they cannot pay court fees or because a judge has reduced their child support so much that they cannot afford to care for their children. More frequently, good mothers are losing custody over economics, said an organization that assists low-income women in retaining custody.

Who has more cash on hand should not be the deciding factor in which parent gets child custody. Instead, judges should look at what is in the best interest of the child and who can best provide for the child's well-being on a daily basis. The intangibles that go with that kind of care cost nothing.

Source: Huffington Post, "Should The Richer Parent Get Custody?" Pauline Gaines, Sept. 28. 2012

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