Should the Richer Parent Win Custody?

Let’s say you earn a modest middle-class salary, and your soon-to-be-ex earns a six-figure salary, or they don’t have to work because they have family money. You can only afford an apartment or a condo in San Diego, and your spouse can afford a sprawling estate.

Now, you’re wondering, “Will my spouse win custody of the children because they are richer than me?” Will you have to pay your spouse, who is much wealthier than you, child support? Will he or she win custody just because they can buy your kids more stuff?

Richer Isn’t Always Better

If you are intimidated by your spouse’s wealth and are anticipating a child custody battle, you have every right to wonder if your spouse will win custody because they have a lot more money than you. While it depends, we can say that being richer does not necessarily mean a parent is “better,” and it doesn’t guarantee them custody.

Often, the richer parent is the father (but not always) because he’s been in the workforce longer than his wife, and he’s been able to climb the corporate ladder. Meanwhile, his wife exited the workforce years ago to care for the couple’s children full-time.

As a result of her absence, she cannot necessarily jump back in and earn a good living. She may need to go back to school, get licensed, or restart at the bottom as she refreshes her job skills – all of these things take time. They don’t happen overnight.

Does that mean her husband is the better option because he can afford a bigger house and to buy more things? Not necessarily, it really comes down to the facts of the case.

Best Interests of the Child

If two parents are divorcing and they are fighting over custody and there is a big disparity between their incomes, the court will have to examine the facts of the case very carefully.

The richer parent could win custody, but that’s not automatic. The poorer parent could win custody as well, even if he or she will be living in a two-bedroom apartment while their wealthier spouse is living in a sprawling $2 or $3 million dollar home. It all comes down to, what is in the best interests of the child?

Some of the factors the judge is going to consider include:

  • The age and health of each parent
  • Each parent’s income and assets
  • The child’s wishes (if the child is mature enough to voice them)
  • Any history of substance abuse
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s ties to the community

We hope you found the information in this article useful. If you need professional legal assistance with a child custody matter in San Diego, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP today.

Next: When Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live with in California?