Does it really matter who has the most money? Who has the biggest house?
The economic circumstances of the parents are a consideration in determining who gets custody of the children, but they are rarely the main consideration and frequently not even a major consideration. It really doesn’t matter who has the biggest house, the most lucrative job, or the greatest access to financial resources. What matters is whether a parent is financially stable enough to provide for the child, to feed him, house him, clothe him, and provide him the necessities of life.
Neither poverty nor wealth determines the best custodial parent for the child. On the other hand, if a parent is destitute or so financially strapped that she cannot put food on the table, then her financial difficulties may suggest that she is incapable of supporting others and that the best interest of the children would be to transfer custody to the other parent. A party with modest financial means may provide the most wholesome and nurturing environment in which to raise the children. And if there’s a major disparity between the parents’ standard of living, the court can modify child support or spousal support accordingly (if appropriate to do so).
A child is, of course, entitled to benefit from the financial success of both parents. Therefore, if a child lives in a modest lifestyle with her mother, while her father earns millions of dollars living and working out of state, the child should enjoy a greater allocation of support or other benefits from the father, even if he is estranged from the child’s life, and even if the mother will incidentally benefit from the additional money. As always, the question is: What will serve the best interest of the child? Economic circumstances are worth considering, but they usually won’t be the determining factors.