Tag: fathers

Why Condemn Children to Sole Custody Awards When They Have Two Fit Parents?

One of the arguments that some fathers make when they encounter the double standard applied to mothers and fathers in child custody disputes (resulting in a denial of equal legal and physical custody to perfectly fit fathers in situations in which there is no way it could be shown that sole custody subserves the best interest of the child better than joint equal custody), they sometimes argue in utter (and utterly understandable) frustration, “Single mothers prove to be the worst parents time and time again!”

That’s an overstatement, a misleading claim. There are plenty of bad single mothers, sure, but single mothers don’t have a corner on the bad parent market.

Single parents (man or woman) have a hard time being the best parents (and being their best selves as a result) because parenthood was never meant to be a solo act. Single parents who try to marginalize and cut the other parent out of childrearing are doing not only the children a disservice, but themselves a disservice as well.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Why Are Family Courts Biased Against Husbands and Fathers?

We should note first that not all courts/judges/judicial officers are against fathers.

Some courts/judges/judicial officers are against fathers (far too many), but not all of them.

Why are the judges who are biased against fathers biased? There are at least 4 reasons that I have observed while I have been a practicing divorce and family lawyer:

    • a belief that fathers aren’t nearly as important to children (especially young children) as are their mothers

o   a belief that dads care about children less than do mothers

o   a belief that dads are more inept caregivers than are mothers

o   a belief that “the only reason Dad wants joint custody is because it will reduce the amount of child support he’ll have to pay”

    • a belief (based upon the biases stated above) that reducing Dad to the status of a “visitor” in his children’s lives is OK because “it’s the quality of the time together, not the quantity”. It’s not true. Children whose fathers are marginalized naturally become emotionally detached from their fathers, they wonder “why doesn’t daddy want me?”, and the feel as though they did or failed to do something that has caused Dad to make himself scarce.
    • a belief that exercising joint physical custody of children causes more turmoil and conflict between Mom and Dad, with the children suffering as a result. It’s not true. Joint custody has been shown generally to reduce such conflict. And even when there is conflict between Mom and Dad, there are many kids who still don’t want that fact to result in a parent being prevented from spending as much time with them as possible.
    • a belief that joint custody requires that the children spend time much time “bouncing back and forth between their parents’ respective residences.” It’s not true. While it is possible to create a poorly devised joint custody plan with a lot of unnecessary back and forth, there are joint custody schedules that involve as many or fewer trips back and forth than a sole custody visitation or parent-time schedule.

Biases need busting, and you bust bias by standing up to judges who indulge biases and refuting those biases with courage, vigilance, facts, and sound reasoning.


Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

(14) Eric Johnson’s answer to Why are family courts biased against husbands and fathers? – Quora

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How hard did you have to fight to get custody of your child after divorce as a father? What was the biggest problem you faced?

Allow me to start this answer by clearing the air a bit:

First, there are many fathers who are clearly unfit fathers but who nonetheless believe the only or the “real” reason they are denied sole or even joint custody is because of unchecked corruption and/or sexual discrimination in the legal system. Such fathers are deluded but get a lot of attention, compensating for their lack of credibility by being extraordinarily vocal.

That stated, no intellectually honest legal professional can deny that there is a bias against fathers when it comes to the child custody and parent time award. The evidence is overwhelming.

That stated, the discrimination against fathers in child custody award cases is slowly but surely being remedied. That, however, is cold comfort to fathers who are suffering current bias and discrimination.

I exaggerate only slightly when I state that in child custody disputes mothers are more or less presumes to be not only fit parents, but superior parents to fathers. The child custody fight is the mother’s fight to lose. Fathers, on the other hand, are often presumed to be uncaring, unprincipled, and thus unfit to exercise custody of their children, pegged as seeking sole or joint custody only for the purpose of avoiding or reducing their child support obligations.

Like the proverbial minority (whether that be a racial or sexual minority) who has to be 10 times better than the majority candidates just to get a seat at the table (whether that be in business or athletics or politics or any other worldly endeavor), fathers confront a lopsided double standard in child custody disputes.

SOP (standard operating procedure) in a child custody dispute consists of a mother asserting herself to be that only fit to exercise custody of the children, but the only parent fit to exercise custody, followed by the court accepting that assertion and then burdening the father with rebutting it if he is to have any chance at obtaining sole or even joint custody of his children. It simply not enough for the father to demonstrate that he is and always has been a law-abiding and otherwise responsible person (and parent) of good character.

Perversely, fathers must demonstrate that they are super parents (that anything Mom can do I can do just as well or better) before they will be treated as worthy of the custody of their children. But even if a father meets this impossible standard, he’s written off as a liar, and egotist, or both.

Never mind that the social science overwhelmingly proves that children do best when reared by a mother and a father, and that exposure to and experience with the differences between one’s mother and a father are one of the material reasons why a child develops to his or her fullest potential.

No, in the family law realm fathers are second-class parents. Like a limited use spare tire. Better

than nothing, but clearly not on par with mothers when it comes to parental value and importance. This is why so many court still inexplicably believe (or say they believe) that children need to be reared primarily by their mothers and that fathers can fulfill their parental obligation sufficiently by visiting with their children a few hours a week, every other weekend, and every other major holiday.

Consequently, fathers are marginalized in their children’s lives. Children—having no understanding of why they see so little of Dad now—feel rejected. Both fathers and children drift apart both physically and emotionally as a consequence. It is as pointless as it is heartbreaking.

So how hard do fathers have to fight for solar physical custody of their children? For far too many fathers, it’s a trick question. In many jurisdictions, it doesn’t matter how hard a father fights and how much proof he presents. He can’t win. More accurately, the culture of the legal system predestines him to lose.

If you are a father and you don’t want to be marginalized or erased by your child custody court proceedings, you may very well have to spend every last penny you have hiring the best lawyer(s) (yes, you may need more than one) and experts in an effort to build and present a case so strong that it is impossible to refute. I am not exaggerating. Even then, that may not be enough.

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

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In our society what shows that we value fathers as parents?

In our society what shows that we value fathers as parents?

When it comes to child custody awards (i.e., the award of legal and/or physical custody)? Society values fathers far too little when it comes to child custody awards.

I remember as a child going camping and discovering a crane fly in the tent. It didn’t matter how many times I was told the crane fly was harmless, I was terrified of it. Even matter when the dragonfly flew away, it didn’t matter; I lived in constant fear that a crane fly would bite or sting me. I was miserable the entire trip because I was convinced of something false. When it comes to child custody awards, fathers are the proverbial crane flies.

It is far too difficult in most parts of the United States (and other parts of the world, for that matter) for a loving, engaged father—who is by every reasonable standard fit to exercise both legal and physical custody of his children—to obtain a joint equal physical custody award.

Fathers are treated as second-class parents in child custody disputes. They are presumed to be less capable, less dependable, less loving, less interested in caring for their children than mothers.

Such treatment of fathers is as destructive as it is irrational.

If a father is the primary or sole breadwinner in the family, that is a strike against him in the child custody award analysis. Court’s pay the perfunctory complement to a hard-working father, then turn around and tell him that because he works full time to care for his family, he’s unfit to exercise physical custody of his children even half the time. Granted, there are some jobs that make the exercise of joint equal physical custody impossible, but far too often court simply presume that because a father works full time he could possibly manage to exercise joint physical custody of his children effectively as well.

When a father literally begs the court simply to give him a chance to prove that he is “worthy” and capable of exercising joint equal custody of his children, I have yet to see a court grant that request. Courts deny such requests by claiming (without a scintilla of evidence, let alone verifiable proof) that if joint equal custody is so much as implemented on a brief, experimental basis and fails, it would cause children irreparable damage. With respect, that is patent nonsense, empty words, a transparently lame excuse.

Consequently, fathers are held to a standard that is essentially impossible to satisfy when all they seek is the joint equal custody of their children for the purpose of ensuring the children are reared as much as possible by two loving, fit parents. The rate at which courts deny loving, fit fathers joint equal physical custody of their children is tragically high. Such denial breaks children’s hearts, to say nothing of the fathers’ broken hearts.

This miscarriage of justice is not going unnoticed, fortunately. More and more states are passing laws recognizing and combating the blatant discrimination against fathers that legal culture has

indulged for far too long. but that’s cold comfort for the fathers and children who are still being victimized.

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

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After a divorce, should my kids be with me or with the mom?

First, you need to understand that you’re asking the wrong question.

Child custody is not a zero-sum game; otherwise stated, when parents divorce, or when unmarried parents separate, where you get the idea that the children must be in the custody of one parent or the other, but not in the joint custody of both?

Perhaps it has come from the idea you been taught most of your life that children of divorced or separated parents must spend the majority of their time in the custody of one parent. I’m 52 years old at the time I write this, and throughout my youth I was taught that very thing.

Not only were we taught the children should spend most of their time in the custody of just one parent, but we were taught that the parent that should be the “custodial” or primary custodial” parent was the mother. Almost always the mother. The mother, unless it could be proven that the mother was heinously unfit to have custody of the children. It was not uncommon to hear about perfectly good and decent fathers not being awarded custody or not being awarded joint physical custody of their children even when mom had a substance abuse problem or was physically and/or emotionally abusive.

The idea that children could be or should be cared for equally or as near to equally as possible by both parents was in the not so distant past unthinkable. The idea of children being cared for by their fathers was believed to be emotionally and psychologically damaging to children, especially very young children. The more research that is conducted on the subject, however, the more we learn that such thinking is wrong. I’ll be the first to admit that, especially in American culture, it seemed somewhat intuitive to believe that children might need or fare better in the care of their mothers instead of their fathers, but it turns out that’s false.

Unfortunately, the legal profession and the courts have been very slow to accept, let alone embrace, this fact. But things are changing in the legal profession and the courts, and at a comparatively rapid pace.

Now (I write this May 27, 2021), things are different, or I should say they are becoming different. As well they should be. Just as this country realized it made no sense to make the black man or woman sit at the back of the bus and that all citizens deserve fair and equal treatment under the law, it makes no sense to deny children of as much love and care and companionship of both of their loving, fit parents as possible.

To crib from C.S. Lewis a bit, asking which fit parent the children are better off with is like asking which blade of the scissors we’re better off with.

When children have to loving, caring parents who are physically and emotionally and financially capable of providing the minimally necessary levels of care their children require, there is no to deny children the benefits of being reared by both parents equally. Period.

I am a divorce lawyer in Utah. For those of you who are currently facing or who are contemplating a possible divorce or child custody dispute in Utah, you may find these statutory criteria that the courts are supposed to apply when making child custody determinations:

Utah Code:

Section 10
. Custody of a child — Custody factors.

Section 10.1. Definitions — Joint legal custody — Joint physical custody.

Section 10.2. Joint custody order — Factors for court determination — Public assistance.

And these sections are worth reviewing to get an idea of what the definitions of child custody are, whether that be legal custody or physical custody:

Section 33
. Advisory guidelines.

Section 34. Parent-time — Best interests — Rebuttable presumption.

Section 34.5. Supervised parent-time.

Section 35. Minimum schedule for parent-time for children 5 to 18 years old.

Section 35.1. Optional schedule for parent-time for children 5 to 18 years of age.

Section 35.2. Equal parent-time schedule.

Section 35.5. Minimum schedule for parent-time for children under five years of age.

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

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Why is it difficult for a father to get child custody?

Why is it difficult for a father to get child custody?

Because there is a pernicious and false belief in far too many of the courts (not, notably, in society at large) that generally:

  1. mothers are better parents than fathers;

and thus

  1. children need the care of their mothers more than the care of their fathers;

and thus

  1. children should spend most of their time in the care of their mothers but have “a relationship” with their fathers by seeing them every other weekend, once a week, and on alternating holidays.

All other “reasons” for presuming that sole or primary custody of a child or children should be awarded to the mother derive from these three false premises, which premises/presumptions are extraordinarily difficult for a father to overcome, even if all he seeks is an award of joint equal child custody.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What does it take to get the court to award custody to the father?

What does it take to get the court to award custody to the father?


A) a miracle


B) the mother has to be so clearly an unfit parent that the court cannot both i) award her custody and ii) be taken seriously.

Now first, I exaggerate, but only a bit.

While fathers are being increasingly (albeit slowly) treated more fairly in child custody awards, there is an obvious bias against awarding fathers sole, much less joint, physical custody of children. Culturally, the courts (and society at large) has been duped into believing that mothers “make better parents.” Courts frequently cite to the fact that the mother was “the primary caregiver” as a reason for awarding custody solely or primarily to mothers. That might actually be a valid argument if a child is a nursing infant dependent upon a parent for 24/7 care. Yet even when the children are in school and Mom now has a job, the “mom was the primary caregiver” argument is often made. That’s silly and grossly unfair to fathers and children alike. That’s like saying Kareem Abdul Jabar should be paid tens of millions of dollars to play in the NBA again because he was such a great player before he turned 73 years old.

Second, no parent—whether father or mother—should seek sole legal or physical custody of children if both parents are at least minimally fit and their geographic proximity, job schedules, and other such material factors enable them to exercise joint physical and legal custody of the the children. The children love both of their parents and want to spend as much time as possible with each of them. Unless joint physical custody is a practicable impossibility, the “best parent” is both parents.

“We cannot expect men to be active, engaged fathers when they have been told since birth that they are the lesser parent, that they should defer to the mothers, and that once they no longer live in the same home as their children, they are relegated to a visitor and a paycheck.”

Emma Johnson

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

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Judge Judy on Family Court

Regardless of whether you may agree with Judge Judy’s values or opinions, the fact is she has attracted our attention as a candid and no no-nonsense legal mind.

Did you know TV’s Judge Judy was, before she was on television, a family court judge? What she has to say about it isn’t flattering. Here are a couple of things she has said on the subject that you may find interesting, informative, and cautionary:

Judge Judy On Child Custody

Here are two interviews with Judge Judy on the subject:

1) Netflix: “Norm MacDonald Has a Show,”, Season 1, Episode 3, aired September 2018

2) 60 Minutes:

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Yes, there is a bias in favor of mothers in child custody disputes, but not for much longer.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

I recently saw this post on a child custody Facebook group:

If [fathers] want to piss and moan, and whine online about injustice and not being able to see their children, and inequality, that’s great. But don’t expect anything to change.

Because the one thing women do, and have always done that these sissy-ass men don’t do is they actually take action. They show the hell up. Women actually fight for their rights and they fight against your rights.

And those of us who have been working our asses off to improve things and make things better for them are getting to the point to where we are not going to do it anymore because it’s clear that we care more about their ability to see their children than they do.

End of rant.

What nonsense.

To be sure, rarely will outworking the opposition make things worse than a slothful, apathetic approach, but claiming that mothers win custody battles solely (or even primarily) because they outwork the fathers is patently untrue.

The main reason mothers who don’t deserve to win child custody disputes often win them anyway (and to be clear, not every undeserving mother wins; sometimes justice is done) is because of a cultural bias in favor of mothers in child custody disputes. It’s as simple (and as obvious) as that. The idea that mothers take so much action or are so “tough” or “consistent” that they win custody by sheer force of grit and determination is bunk.

Of course there is a bias in favor of mothers in child custody disputes. But this bias is waning. As more women enter the workforce and achieve occupational and income parity with men, and as more men are able to work remotely from home, the old arguments about women being “born nurturers” and men being mere “breadwinners” are growing more and more invalid. Children of these kinds of parents are also becoming judges. If you are a fit parent and a father, you can “win” joint custody of your children (or retain the joint custody you already have and should never have taken away from you simply because you and your spouse are divorcing) IF you have the needed proof, the proper legal arguments, and a sympathetic commissioner and/or judge.

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

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