July 28, 2011 Articles

Gender and Custody: Is the Weekend Dad Still the Norm?

By Coleen M. Penacho

When I met my husband in 1994, his teenage daughter was living with him. When he and his ex-wife divorced, they agreed that their daughter, who was 14 at the time, could decide whether to live with her mother or father. The court determined that she was mature enough to make that choice, and she chose to live with her father. As my husband’s ex-wife moved back to her home state, this meant that his daughter was a four-hour drive away from her mother and, therefore, saw her mother infrequently—less than every other weekend.

I was not a lawyer at the time, and I was surprised that a child, especially a girl, was living with her father rather than her mother. The norm among the divorced couples I knew was that the children lived with their mother and saw their father every other weekend.

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