Prominent lawyer Alice Hector has won an appeal from the 3rd District Court of Appeals, re-gaining custody of her two daughters.
In 1996, judges granted Hector primary custody of her daughters after she filed for divorce. Her ex-husband, Robert Young, an architect, appealed the decision in 1998. He claimed that for several years while his wife was pursing her career, he was unemployed and the primary caretaker of the children. The appeals court voted in his favor. Hector appealed this ruling, which resulted in the latest decision by judge who stated that the girls, who are now 14 and 11, should not have been taken from their mother’s care in the first place.
This case has sparked the interest of many organizations which advocate rights for working mothers, as well as those which support father’s rights. They question if a woman must choose between pursuing a career and having a family, in order to retain her status as a primary caretaker. It also raises the issue of whether fathers have the same nurturing qualities and abilities that mothers do.
Nancy Chang, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, said, “The decision is a tremendous victory for working mothers as well as working fathers. The parents ought not to be penalized when pursuing a career.”