Unique challenges for men and women face in divorce and child custody

The unique challenges men and women face in divorce and child custody cases

What follows is my opinion, but my honest and sincere opinion born of experience over the past 23 years in the practice of divorce and family law. It is an educated opinion that nevertheless may, and likely will,  lead to my being disparaged and to me making some enemies, but if we don’t exercise the precious right of free speech by letting the heckler’s veto silence any of us, we have no one to blame but ourselves. And we all lose.

Men and Women, women and men can encounter—and more often than not do encounter—unique challenges in divorce and child custody cases. Some lawyers and judges and others in the legal system deny that there are cultural biases or prejudices ever affecting treatment of men and women, but that is just not true.

Mothers are awarded sole or primary custody of children in the overwhelming majority of cases, no matter how hard a father has worked and striven to prove he can make joint custody work.

Mothers are awarded sole or primary custody of children in the overwhelming majority of cases, even when the mother is less fit (I am not saying unfit, just less fit) than the father.

This is an undeniable bias against men, seeing and treating them, falsely and unfairly, as second-class parents.

Interestingly, it does not matter whether your judge is a man or a woman, the bias is cultural and institutional.

I will note that this bias is weaker now that it was in the past, and it is getting weaker, yet it is still surprisingly strong against men.

Another bias: modern women have a lot to say about being just as qualified as men are to do the same work and thus be paid the same amount of money, so the cognitive dissonance is unavoidable in a divorce case when the subject of alimony arises. These same strong independent women are the most helpless creatures in the world when it comes to claiming a desperate need for alimony, and quite often the courts buy it. Do not misunderstand me. There are clearly many women and even some men who are, through no fault of their own, financially dependent upon their spouses and who are clearly deserving of alimony and spousal support post-divorce. But men get the short end of the stick when it comes to alimony far more often than do women. While this bias is waning, it is still present and still undeniable.

Interestingly, it does not matter whether your judge is a man or a woman, the bias is cultural and institutional.

I will note that this bias is weaker now that it was in the past, and it is getting weaker, yet it is still surprisingly strong against men.

Another bias against men is revealed in the realm of domestic violence and the way the law treats it. If a man seeks police help or protection from a violent wife or girlfriend, he is often laughed at or humiliated for failing to man up and defend himself. If such a man is fool enough to take that kind of advice, he will find himself the one arrested for committing domestic violence. I have witnessed personally situations where the man is bloodied and bruised, and the wife complains that he pushed her down while she was beating him, and the police will arrest the man for “assaulting” the woman.

Courts are far more willing to believe claims of domestic violence made by wives and mothers against the men in their lives. This is not a matter of opinion; this is a matter of fact. Anyone can confirm this to be true by simply attending the protective order and restraining order and civil stalking injunction court hearings that are open to the public. While I will be the first to acknowledge that there are clearly genuine incidents of domestic violence that are reported and for which protective orders are issued, you can witness for yourself protective and restraining orders issued on literally nothing but one’s word over another’s. No objectively verifiable evidence to support the claims at all. And yet the protective orders and restraining orders get issued, nonetheless. And who gets these orders at least 9 out of 10 times? It is women. That does not square with that the statistics kept by law enforcement, which shows that wives and girlfriends are more violent towards men than 10% of the time.

I will note that this bias is weaker now that it was in the past, and it is getting weaker, yet it is still surprisingly strong against men.

What does this mean? It means that men often have to win the child custody, alimony, and domestic violence disputes six ways from Sunday. They generally need far, far more and far better evidence than the women to get the same things women get with less and lower-quality evidence.

So, guys, if your marriage is crumbling, and you happen to be married to a woman who is vindictive and or crazy, keep the foregoing in mind. And take the necessary steps to protect yourself. One of the ways that crazy vindictive women take advantage of men in divorce and child custody cases is accusing them of domestic violence as a cheap and incredibly rapid way to remove the man from the house and to keep him out. As I alluded to earlier, one of the most common ways this is done is by the woman calling the police claiming that the man has assaulted her, attempted to assault her, or threatened to assault her. Sometimes all they have to do is make no claims of assault, attempted assault, or threatened assault and merely claim that they “don’t feel safe around” the man they live with, without even providing any plausible basis for such an ostensible “fear”. To protect yourself from being arrested and forcibly removed from your house, from false allegations of domestic violence, and fraudulently sought protective orders, and character assassination, you may find the following the difference between defeat and victory:

First, unless your safety or life is truly in jeopardy by remaining in the same house with your vindictive and/or crazy wife or girlfriend, do not move out of the house. If you do, your vindictive and/or crazy wife or girlfriend will claim that you abandoned her and the children, as well as the house itself, meaning that you should be forever barred from living there, even though it’s your house, even if you can show the court that you have nowhere else you can go. After all, so the thinking goes, you abandoned the family and you abandoned the house, so you should be forever barred. Do not move out if you don’t have to.

Second, if your house is the kind that has a distinct upstairs and downstairs, move downstairs. Then put it in writing to your spouse and get it on audio and video too, if you can, showing that your vindictive and/or crazy wife or girlfriend is clearly on notice that you are trying to stay away from her for the purpose of maintaining the peace and protecting yourself. That way if she tries to claim that she does not understand why you have done what you have done, you have clear proof as to why and proof that she knew why.

Notify your crazy and/or vindictive wife or girlfriend that you will be placing locks on closets in the downstairs to protect your property from theft or vandalism by her. Do not lock her out of the basement itself, but do point out that you will have the downstairs wired for sound and video, so that if she ever goes down there with the purpose of robbing you or vandalizing your living quarters or property, she will be undeniably caught.

In your written and video recorded notices to your crazy and/or vindictive wife or girlfriend also inform her that you are placing cameras and microphones everywhere throughout the basement in every room and every space to ensure that your movements and hers in the basement are tracked. Tell her she has no expectation of privacy anywhere in the basement. Post it in writing on the basement door and on the wall on the stairs leading downstairs. Post it on the bathroom door. Inform her that you have taken both photographic and video footage of the cameras and microphones and the written notices, so that if she tries to claim you violated her privacy downstairs, or if she tries to remove or damage them, there will be no way she can remove them at least one camera and microphone capturing her misconduct and making a record of it. You may even want to go so far as to buy one of those wearable cameras and microphone combinations on your person at all times when you are in the house with your crazy and/or vindictive wife or girlfriend, so that they don’t get any ideas about trying to pick fights and frame you for a fraudulent claim of domestic violence.

Again, this may seem extreme and over-the-top, but I have seen what happens to men who fail to protect themselves adequately. I’ve also seen men avoid being so much as charged with a crime, let alone convicted, because they — as soon as they got an inkling that their wives or girlfriends might be up to no good — took steps to document and secure and protect themselves.

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

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