Do fathers and mothers get the same treatment in child custody cases? Or are New Hampshire judges automatically inclined to award custody to the mother? A New Hampshire man recently lit himself on fire in front of a Keene courthouse because he believed the court had handled his custody case unfairly, and his drastic act has prompted some New Hampshire residents to take a second look at custody cases, according to a recent news report by WMUR.
For instance, the National Congress for Fathers and Children, a fathers’ custody advocacy group, claims that New Hampshire courts are biased against fathers because judges tend to assume that fathers are the “breadwinners” and mothers are “caregivers,” which prompts judges to award custody to the parent they assume spends more time with the children – their mother.
Not everyone agrees with this assessment of New Hampshire family courts, however. Other groups, like the domestic abuse counseling organization Ending the Violence, say that women face an uphill battle in custody cases because they are expected to dote on their children full-time, despite the fact that most single mothers also need to work to support the family.
New Hampshire’s child custody laws allow courts to make decisions that fit individual cases. The law requires the judge to put the “best interests of the child” first, and to consider such factors as the ability of each parent to provide food, shelter, education, and emotional support; which parent the child spends most of his or her time with before the divorce; any special needs the child has, like the need for medical care; and, if the child is old enough to express one, the child’s opinion about which parent he or she would prefer to live with.
Child custody disputes are often heart-wrenching, and the rules involved can seem complex and difficult. If you’re considering divorce or are facing a custody dispute in New Hampshire, please don’t hesitate to contact the experienced New Hampshire child custody attorneys at Tenn And Tenn, P.A. Call us at 1-603-624-3700 today for a free and confidential telephone consultation.