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The problem with judging mothers with non-custodial status

In the state of Minnesota and other states across the nation, there are some presumptions surrounding the child custody process. While divorce can spark many issues and disputes, many divorcing parents seek joint custody arrangements for the benefit and best interests of their children. In cases where there is primary custody, there is an ongoing presumption that the mother will gain the status of custodial parent. However, this is not always the case.

In fact, women across the United States elect to have non-custodial parent status of their children. However, taking such a step often causes a stigma to be associated with the mother. A non-custodial mother is typically given one of two labels. She is either considered to be unfit or selfish. This also gives these mothers a bad reputation, deeming them bad mothers because they chose not to be their child's primary caregiver.

But because a woman goes against the norms of society does not mean that they made a bad choice or that they are unfit. Much like a father could receive a non-custodial label, this situation highlights the gender biases and the disparity of power when it comes to raising a child and being the primary caregiver.

It should be noted that parents make a variety of choices for the best interests of their children, even if it does not initially look like it. A mother might be in a situation where the only way she can move ahead in her career and properly provide for her child is to pass on some parental responsibilities to the father. This does not make them any less of a parent but rather a selfless parent who is willing to accept that the situation could be stressful and harmful to the child.

Whether it is temporarily or permanent, being a non-custodial parent can be a necessary step for some parents to take. In the end, the decision is based on the needs and best interests of the children involved. And if the child's needs change, the custody arrangement could be altered to mirror that.

Source: Role Reboot, "Let's Talk About Mothers Without Primary Custody Of Their Children," Christina Vanvuren, May 19, 2017

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