When parents are married in New York, they generally share in the responsibilities of raising the children. However, how parents share these responsibilities can vary from marriage to marriage. Sometimes the mother will stay home with the children and sometimes the father will stay home with them. In other marriages, both parents will work full-time and are with the children a relatively equal amount of time when they are not working.
Despite all the various different types of situations, there is a general perception that mothers always have an upper hand in gaining child custody if the couple divorces. This is not the case though; there is no presumption that either parent is more fit to have custody of the children.
Generally custody is given to the primary caretaker for the children. The responsibilities of the primary caretaker are feeding the children, getting them to school, helping with homework, speaking with teachers, taking the children to activities, taking them to the doctor, shopping for the children and other daily cares.
So, generally if one parent does all those tasks by themselves, that parent is more likely to have primary custody. However, it is also quite common for parents to share in those responsibilities equally. If that is the case, the parents generally will have joint custody of the children in the event of a divorce.
The family dynamics for each family in New York varies greatly and is unique to that family. Therefore, if the parents divorce, the divorce will also be unique and the child custody determination will be based on the specific situation of that family. There is no presumption that the mother is more fit to have custody of the children. Therefore, it is important to understand the laws surrounding child custody determinations and how one's specific family situation will affect a child custody determination.
Source: Cross-Borough Collaboration, "The Basics Custody and Visitation in New York State" accessed on May 10, 2016