It is a common perception that most children of separated male-female couples spend most or all of their time with their mother. It is also commonly believed that courts are used to make these decisions and that they have a bias towards mothers.

To what extent is this perception correct?

  • In South Africa, they passed new child protection laws that moved away from the idea that there is a primary caregiver and a secondary caregiver. Now parents are both co-caregivers unless one party is deemed unfit. It was in response to statistics that children were more likely to live with grandparents than fathers. A statistic the government of ours found unacceptable. I believe it was 3 - 5 % before the law came into being
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


Australian government statistics show that:

  1. In general, mothers are the primary caregiver following separation

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  1. The courts are hardly ever involved in the arrangements (~3% of cases). Where the courts are involved, family violence is almost always a factor. The way parenting arrangements are decided are:

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When the court decides there are three types of resolution: adjudication by the judge - this is by far the least common, consent after litigation or pure consent - the most common by far is where the parents have agreed on a plan and ask the court to adopt it as a legally binding order.

Where the judge decides, 45.1% result in sole custody for the mother, 11.2% sole custody for the father and 39.8% in shared responsibility (leaving 3.9% "other"). It is extremely uncommon for a court to order no contact - 3.0% fathers, 0.2% mothers. It must be borne in mind that the majority of these cases involve domestic violence and most such violence is perpetrated by men.

  • 1
    "most such violence is perpetrated by men." The statistics I've seen indicate that most such violence is bidirectional, and the majority of unidirectional violence is actually perpetrated by women. It's just not taken as seriously by society because women are usually less capable of causing serious injuries because they're physically weaker than men are.
    – nick012000
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 5:05
  • @nick012000 While that might be true, a court can only decide based on facts. Since most violence against men is hardly ever reported, let alone persecuted, for all intents and purposes that claim can stand.
    – Robb
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 10:46
  • I saw "Chart Title" "Something else" "Nothing specific, just happened" and immediately thought this was a dummy chart for some reason. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 16:01
  • also in the first chart the last two rows should be swapped, for symmetry with the first two. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 16:01

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