Can a mother keeping the children from the father work against in custody litigation?

Can a mother not allowing the father to see his child without reason work against her in litigation for joint custody? Would the father having children from another relationship living in the home as well impact the decision for joint custody?

Oddly enough, when a mother does not “allow” the father to see the couple’s child without reason, it can work against her in litigation for joint custody, but rarely works against her nearly as much as you might imagine.

Even though societal and court bias against fathers in child custody cases is waning, there is in my experience still an unbelievable level of bias against fathers generally in child custody cases. The child custody award is, with surprisingly rare exception even nowadays, still the mother’s to lose.

There is often an unwritten but undeniable presumption that mothers:

  • are the children’s primary caregivers of, even when both parents have jobs outside the home and even when the mother works outside the home and the father does not! I’ve witnessed it personally myself as an attorney;
  • mothers are just generally better parents than fathers; and
  • fathers who seek sole or joint custody of their children do so only to avoid having to pay child support (yet virtually no one claims that mothers don’t seek sole custody for the purpose of receiving maximum child support)

This means essentially that for every “point” favoring an award of custody to the mother the father has to score 3 to 5 points of his own just to stay in the running for a joint custody award. It’s patently unfair and patently sexist.

If a father in a pending child custody case was in a previous case awarded custody of other children from another relationship can do nothing but have a positive impact on his efforts to seek joint custody of this other children, so long as the father can show that he is exercising custody properly and for the benefit of the children. It may not be enough to secure an award of joint custody, but it will help (unless the court engages in tortured logic—which I’ve seen before—and concludes that because the father has sole custody of his children from a previous relationship that he won’t have the time and resources and attention to care for his other children the same way).

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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