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Changing gender roles affect child support and custody

Approximately 50 years ago, there were specific expectations for men and women in the household. Men would report to work, providing most, if not all, of the household’s income, while women would stay at home, taking care of the house and children. These expectations have shifted significantly over the last five decades. Women are now CEOs of companies, for example, with some reports indicating that a woman is the primary earner in approximately 40 percent of households. As a result, there has also been a shift in child custody and child support in Florida and across the country.

Ideally, family laws, and orders related to them, are without gender bias. Therefore, decisions regarding child and spousal support should be based on need rather than a person’s gender. Therefore, it is much more likely that a father today who sacrificed a career to be their primary care provider will receive support in a divorce settlement.

While 50 years ago, it may have been assumed that a father was the primary earner and the mother the primary child care provider, that assumption is no longer applicable in today’s society. In fact, a recent survey shows that approximately one in every six fathers has either primary or sole custody of their children. This is a massive change since 1960.

While each state has its own laws governing spousal and child support decisions, each court will basically look at how long a marriage lasted, who is in the most need of financial support and who is best able to provide that support. In most cases, a court will not be eager to issue a ruling that would reverse the roles demonstrated prior to a divorce. However, familiarity with Florida laws may help ensure a person seeking a divorce has the best possible outcome for him or herself and children.

Source:, “More women paying child support, spousal support“, Myra Fleischer, May 27, 2014