In 2018, Colombia's Supreme Court ruled that there will be no restrictions on parents having joint custody of children. Given this recent development, the country has no legal or administrative history of using joint custody as a means to resolve child custody disputes. However, the recent application of the ruling already poses limitations when those applying for custody, especially women, are living in conditions of social and economic precariousness. This paper examines the impossibility of shared custody in the case of Estrella, a woman whose child was placed in institutional child protection as a result of a custody dispute with the father. In this case, the overriding ideal of the nuclear family and maternal instinct related to assumptions regarding employment and economic stability is analyzed. In addition, the authors highlight the negative assessments that institutions make of the maternal care provided by separated and impoverished women. This is because institutional staff perceive that these mothers demonstrate lack of economic or moral rationality and they don’t fit the institution’s idea of a “good woman”. Finally, the authors reflect on the suffering contradiction generated by the clash between the rhetoric of children's rights and the application of the neoliberal model, which accentuates social suffering among the poorest families, mothers and children in Bogotá.