Why don’t some people fight for child custody in some divorce or child custody cases?
Others have explained why, in their particular situations, they felt that while they desired custody, they couldn’t get it, and so they didn’t fight a losing battle. Those answers are worth reading because those parents’ situations do arise, and the answers those parents gave are insightful.
I’ll answer this question a little differently, and I’ll do so by making a few assumptions, so that you know the context of my answer:
- In my answer I will assume that the parent is fit to exercise custody of their children. In other words, no neglect, no abuse, no disabilities, no behaviors that would make the parent unfit to exercise custody. He or she is ready, willing, and able to exercise custody, whether sole or joint.
- In my answer I will assume that the parent desires to exercise custody of the children. He or she wants to be loving, supporting, and actively involved in the children’s upbringing.
So why would a parent who is fit to exercise child custody and who desires to exercise child custody not fight for at least joint custody?
Here are many all too common reasons (and with due respect for people’s feelings, I will not allow my answer to be tempered by political correctness—these are my fully candid, honest, professional opinions):
- If the other parent is an amazingly persuasive liar who has no qualms about lying to get what he/she wants and is willing to stoop as low as it takes to win. Parents who don’t fight this kind of parent aren’t lazy or cowardly, they just realize that everyone believes the other parent’s stories and that challenges to those stories either fall on deaf ears or worse (and perversely), make one look defensive and not credible. The saying, “A lie will run half over the world while truth is putting on his boots to pursue it” aptly—though sadly—applies all too well in child custody disputes. And many judges are egomaniacs and deathly afraid of appearing to have made a mistake. So if one parent accuses the other of being abusive, the court makes the safe bet.
- If you know that the other parent will not rest until you and/or the child are/is beaten and made utterly miserable. Many a parent will tell you that one of the hardest, most sickening decisions they had to make was to give up custody to the crazy, rotten parent because unless that happened the crazy rotten parent would make life hell for the other parent and/or the child for the rest of his/her/their lives. How? Constant litigating. Calling the cops and child services with endless false accusations. Harassing phone calls, text messages, and e-mails. Libelous social media postings. Rumor mongering among neighbors, parishioners, and colleagues. Refusing to comply with court orders. The list is limited only by the powers of parent’s diabolical mind. In such situations giving up on the custody fight is a case of choosing the lesser of two evils.
- If you run out of money. You can’t fight for custody if you can’t make a good case, and often you cannot make a good case without a good lawyer, and few, if any, good family lawyers are free. I’ve seen parents try to fight for custody without being represented by a lawyer. Some succeed, but they are the rare exception. It’s not fair, but it is reality. And custody fights include more than just your lawyer fees. Usually there is a “custody evaluator” appointed that one or both parents have to pay for. Often a lawyer is appointed to represent the children. Psychological evaluations may be ordered as well, and at the parents’ expense.
- If the judge is biased. There could be many reasons for the bias, but the reasons don’t really matter if you’re on the wrong end of the bias itself. A judge can (and many do) discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, race, nationality, and religion to name some of the top biases. Few of these kinds of judges are stupid enough to publish their biases (if they were, they wouldn’t last long on the bench), so they come up with other plausible-sounding bases for custody awards that don’t reveal the bias. What’s the point in fighting against bias that you can’t prove and that your judge won’t acknowledge?
- If you’re a man and the other parent is a woman. While the bias against fathers is waning (and even rapidly waning) in child custody cases, the prevailing attitude (that few, if any courts are willing to acknowledge) is still that women are better parents than men. And let’s be honest: there is a good reason for these beliefs. If we took a random sampling of 100 sets of parents and evaluate each one on standards of parental skill and fitness, the mothers would probably score higher than the fathers. So many judges just go with their presumptions, without making a serious and impartial examination of the evidence in each particular case. In other words, they play the odds. But courts aren’t casinos. Presuming men are worse parents than women is no different than presuming women can’t do jobs men traditionally held. It’s like presuming the black guy defendant is guilty or presuming the handicapped applicant can’t be a successful student. The purpose of going to trial is to try the case. If you know in advance that you start at an artificially imposed disadvantage, then you also know the system isn’t interested in making an impartial analysis of the facts particular to your case. If a father knows the court isn’t interested in the facts, what good comes from entrusting your fate to the court?
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277