Q. Are there any Jewish laws about which parent should have custody of the children after a divorce?
There is a general principle in Jewish law that all children stay with the mother until they are two. Thereafter the girls stay with the mother and the boys with the father, though at the mother’s request the sons can stay with her until the age of six.
However, the rabbis would agree with the Rema (Rabbi Moses Isserles, the glossator on the Shulchan Aruch) that if a different arrangement seems better for the children, the Beth Din can rule accordingly.
In all circumstances, both parents should continue to show an interest in every child and not to use the child as a way to hurt the other party, and both should consider the other’s financial needs and not make impossible demands. Nor should the grandparents on either side feel frozen out.