Majority Favor Equal Child Custody

Although primary child custody has traditionally been granted to mothers during divorce procedures, a study from Arizona State University found that the general public favors equal custody for both parents.

The study, published in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law, relied on surveys from individuals in a Pima County jury pool. In the first study, the participants were asked to judge a series of hypothetical cases where parents each provided different child care duties prior to their separation. In scenarios where a couple split child care 50-50 before a divorce, 69 percent of respondents said they thought living time should be divided equally between the parents. Almost everyone else said the child should live with the mother but spend a lot of time with the father.

When respondents were asked what they thought would happen in real situations in the current family court system, only 28 percent believed both parents would be allocated equal living time.

“So, our respondents seemed to believe that the legal system was gender-biased,” wrote Sanford Braver, the lead author of the study.

Mothers are granted primary custody in 70 percent of U.S. child custody cases. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that there are 3.4 divorces per 1,000 population.