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Addressing Bias Against Men in Family Court

Navigating arguments and decisions in family court, particularly with custody, is a stressful experience. However, further complicating this experience for many men is the challenge of inherent bias within the court system.

While numerous states have now rewritten their family law to incorporate a more gender-neutral stance, courts are staffed by humans— those judges and legal representatives who may advocate for or make determinations based on latent biases.

Men’s rights remain in contest, and they should be prepared to stand up for their legal rights within the court system during family matters such as divorce and custody determinations.

Here is what men in Maryland need to know about the gender bias that can occur in family court and what they can do about it.

Understanding Bias in Family Court

Bias against men can occur in any aspect of the family court process, whether in the division of property, assignment of child custody and visitation, or even determination of paternity.

Studies have shown that, depending on the state, men won custody less often than women on average, typically at a rate of around 42% compared to women.

When mothers pursued sole custody but fathers attempted to secure a joint arrangement, the mothers still won approximately 67% of the time, accounting for the female partner receiving the custody arrangement that she preferred around twice as often as men.

The US Census reports that mothers are almost twice as likely to receive child support than men when the situation is reversed. In cases in which the father is the one to advocate for custody, he typically receives it less than 20% of the time.

Strategies for Overcoming Bias

While laws dictate that each partner be treated equitably, men lack some of the inherent supports that ensure this treatment. For instance, while mothers often benefit from the legal presumption that they maintain custody of any children, fathers may need to prove paternity and undergo additional rigors in order to secure the same custody treatment.

In such cases, courts typically examine the following factors, among many others:

  • The best interests of the child
  • The parent’s earning potential
  • The living situation and geographical location
  • Who has conducted daily life responsibilities in the past
  • Who has spent the most time with the child

These considerations can be inherently considered to be biased. For instance, only 7% of fathers are the stay-at-home parent. While they may be earning the family’s income and providing for the children, the court will still consider how much time the mother has spent with the children—and, by contrast, how much the father has been out of the house—when determining custody.

Custody is just one potential example of the disparity in treatment between men and women. These issues become even more complex in cases of minorities (Black fathers are less likely to receive custody than white fathers) and other classes (fathers who come out as gay receive custody less often than heterosexual parents due to a bias against the father’s “lifestyle” practice or having two men in the home while the child is present).

No matter which type of family court proceeding a man is facing, it is essential that he prepares adequately to ensure he receives fair and equal treatment. Gather evidence and documentation ahead of time to support the claim which may include:

  • divorce, men's rights, and custody child conceptFinancial statements
  • Attestations from family
  • Witnesses to participation in the child’s life
  • Schedules of daily activities the father participates in with the child
  • Proof of signed school permission slips
  • Driving the child to sports practice
  • Other engagements with the child (birthday parties, teacher conferences, doctor visits)

In the courtroom, it is imperative to maintain composure and professionalism. Work with an experienced attorney that can expertly address men’s rights, advocate for the father in the courtroom, and eliminate some of the stress and uncertainty of how to behave in this environment.

Additionally, an experienced attorney will be prepared to rebut a mother’s arguments and demonstrate the father’s active role in the child’s life. Establishing the father as an equal partner in the marriage applies in cases of custody, visitation, and asset division.

Protect Your Rights with Legal Assistance

Whether you are facing a divorce from a partner who wants to seize your assets, or a conflict about who will become the primary caregiver of your children, partner with an attorney experienced in men’s rights.

The professional team at SIEGELLAW understands that men face inherent bias within the family court system, and to overcome it, the male partner must have a robust strategy. Contact SIEGELLAW to schedule a consultation to discuss your family dispute and learn how to approach it with your rights in mind.

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