Ideally, family courts in New Jersey should make custody decisions on the basis of what is in your child’s best interest. According to this principle you, as a father, should not have difficulty obtaining joint custody of your child because the law generally presumes that is in the child’s best interest unless there is particular evidence to the contrary.
Unfortunately, according to Fatherly, some family court judges retain antiquated notions of mothers being caretakers who stay at home to nurture the children and fathers being breadwinners who get out of the house and work to support the family. When it comes to decisions regarding custody during a divorce, these judges may decide that working outside the home limits your availability to care for your children and award your former spouse sole custody instead.
If that is the case, then you may think that being a stay-at-home dad would work to your advantage in custody hearings. Unfortunately, however, this is not necessarily true. Your role as a stay-at-home parent may become filtered through the lens of stereotypical societal expectations of the roles men and women are supposed to play.
While the perception of a stay-at-home mother may be of a nurturing caregiver, the perception of a stay-at-home father may be of a freeloading deadbeat, even if the roles each plays in the household are essentially the same. Even if you contribute to the family income by working from home, a judge may feel that you are not doing enough to pull your own weight and deny you custody as a result.
Going up against this double standard can be extremely frustrating. Fortunately, the judges who hold these views tend to be older and near retirement. Eventually, new judges with less stereotypical views will ascend in the ranks to take their places.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.