In my experienced opinion:
If the fight is over which parent will be awarded sole (full) custody of the children, and if no other factors are considered: the chances of a mother winning full custody of the children are always better than the chances of a father winning full custody of the children.
If the mother is seeking sole custody, but the father is seeking joint equal custody, and if no other factors are considered: then 1) unless you are in a jurisdiction in which it is the law that joint custody of children shall be presumptively awarded, 2) unless that presumption is (honestly) rebutted, and 3) the courts in such a jurisdiction actually follow that law and the facts, the odds still favor the mother, though not as much as when the parents are both seeking sole custody. The father has to work much harder than the mother to persuade the court to award joint equal custody than the mother does to persuade the court to award less than joint equal custody.
If the mother is seeking sole custody and the father is seeking joint custody, but is not seeking joint equal custody (meaning that the father is not limited to the statutory minimal amount of visitation or parent time but is also not awarded the same amount of time with the children as is the mother) and if no other factors are considered: then the father may have a decent shot at winning a “more than minimum and less than equal” joint custody award. Why? Because I think that when a court is sexist it likes the “booby prize” look and sound of a child custody award that has the word “joint” in it. The thinking seems to be in the minds of such judges, “Hey, be grateful I awarded you something better than minimal time with your kids. It could’ve been worse.”
Loving, fit fathers who want the children to have the benefit of being reared equally by both parents are often shocked and then heartbroken to learn that such a sentiment generally doesn’t get a very warm reception from the courts. There is an amazing and shameful amount of sexual discrimination against fit fathers in the child custody decisions of courts, even after giving the courts credit for a slow trend of decreasing discrimination.
I am not exaggerating when I state—as a divorce and family lawyer who has fought these battles for fathers—that generally (except in the extremely “progressive” jurisdictions) 1) fathers have to work 20 times harder to win sole custody (when that is truly what is best for the children) than a mother does to win sole custody and 2) fathers have to work at least 10 times harder to win joint equal custody (when that is truly what is best for the children) than a mother does to win sole custody.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277