Tag: mothers

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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Do family courts favor mothers? 

While there are some judges, perhaps even some jurisdictions, that are outliers, the answer to your question is: generally yes, no question about it. 


While the preference for and favoritism showed mothers is not as great as it was a generation or more ago, and while fathers are gaining parity with mothers in child custody cases, the courts still generally favor mothers over fathers for no reason other than their being mothers. Sexual discrimination is still alive and well in the family courts. 


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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How do courts view mothers who abandon their family during a divorce?

How does the court view mothers that abandon their family during a divorce?

Generally, with disbelief, at first. Why? A few reasons.

One, to its credit, our culture still holds the concept and institution of motherhood in high esteem, so most people (and judges are people) believe that mothers are good, devoted caregivers. Most mothers are just that. So it is not easy to accept what our senses are conveying when a mother behaves contrary to our cultural expectations. We tend to see mothers as we want to see them, not as they always are.

Two, few bad mothers are honest with the court about being bad mothers. So the false face that most bad mothers present to the court is (primarily, but not solely, because of point number one) not only hard to detect as false, but easily accepted or acceptable as genuine.

  • One way bad mothers divert attention from their faults and misconduct is by blaming the fathers for those faults and misdeeds. Just as we tend to put mothers on a pedestal in our culture, we unfairly tend to see and treat many fathers as second-class parents. The feeling is like, “Yeah, they are important to a child’s upbringing, I guess, but they aren’t as vital and important to a child’s development as a mother, so we give dads less of the benefit of the doubt.” This is so wrong for so many reasons, but nevertheless it happens so often.
    • If kids are abused or neglected, bad mothers blame the guiltless fathers with a high rate of success in court. For example: violence perpetrated by men can be more severe than violence perpetrated by women, so if a child is a victim of domestic violence, it’s easy to assume Dad is the perpetrator (interestingly, FBI statistics show women commit just as much, if not more, domestic violence than men). If Dad has a full-time job, it’s easy to presume that Mom is the full-time caregiver, not a lazy slob who drinks herself numb every day and lets the kids run amok until Dad gets home to restore order and attend to the children’s need.

Three, even when a bad mother’s defects are unavoidably and undeniably exposed, many courts possess surprisingly great supplies of sympathy and forgiveness that they would rarely or not so readily extend to a father. It so often gets framed like this, for example: a mother who abuses drugs or alcohol is a victim whose substance abuse is a cry for help. A father who abuses drugs is a narcissist who lacks self-discipline. A mother with crippling mental health issues is deserving of our concern and rehabilitation. A father with crippling mental health issues is a danger against which the children need protection. I’ve personally witnessed many cases where mom was abusive and/or neglectful and dad was not, yet mom was awarded primary physical custody of the children because the court felt so strongly that the kids “need their mother,” that somehow mom had earned the right to be the custodial parent by virtue of being a woman, and that mom could and would overcome her shortcomings (not because there was credible evidence that she can and wanted to overcome those shortcomings, but because the court had to make such a finding to justify the award of custody to the worse of the two parents).

To be clear, I am not telling you that courts cannot identify bad mothers or that they cannot or will not shield children from bad mothers. Many people—moms and dads alike—when discovered for the mediocre, even dangerous, parents they are, are not awarded child custody and/or are subject to supervision around their children. It can and does happen. But that is not what discussed here. In response to the question of which parent among mothers and fathers gets undeserved breaks more in divorce cases, it is mothers hands down. Now you know some of the main reasons why.

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

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Relocation: ex-wife just told me she’s moving out of state with the kids

What do I do?

My ex-wife tonight, in a fit of anger, told me that she and the kids will be moving out of state. There’s no reason–like a job or school or even remarriage–for her to move out of state.

I’m not sure how serious she is, but on the chance it does happen, how does that affect custody and parent time? We have joint custody, with her as custodial parent, and our decree says she has tentative final say, subject to my right to bring it to mediation.

As things stand now, odds are (odds are) that you will lose this fight, if it goes to court.


The “kids already spend more time in Mom’s custody than in Dad’s argument” is a good one and one that Mom will almost surely use. And let’s be honest: Mom will never claim she decided to move to Missouri “in a fit of anger.” It is ludicrous to believe that your ex-wife would ever admit in court that she is moving out of spite. Of course she’ll never fess up to that. She will deny it. She and her shyster attorney will it come up with plausible sounding reasons for the relocation. So you have to ask yourself: how will I win an argument against A) the parent who has custody the majority of the time; B) who is the all-important mother; and C) who will have no compunction against lying to improve your odds of success?


You might snatch victory from the gaping jaws of defeat, if you can show, among other things, that her move is in fact a spiteful move, or not one born of necessity, or contrary to preserving/fostering the best interest of the children, or that her move would do the children more harm than good, or that it would take the children not only from you, but from a crucial and broad extending family and friends support system, etc.

Another way is to take action to prevent her from moving. What kind of action? One thing I’ve found effective is to tell the parent who is contemplating a move that if she moves to Missouri, you will too. You’ll move to the same neighborhood so that you can ensure that you’re close to the children and then move for joint physical custody and a modification of child support due to the change in circumstances.

Your most likely path to success may not lie in trying to seek vindication within the system

Finding a way to defeat your ex-wife machinations using methods that are legal but within your power to control may be the more effective way (in various ways, whether a matter of time, money, effort, frustration, and damage to your reputation and relationship with your children). Without other arguments going for you, it would be naive to hope to persuade the judge or commissioner that the kids are better off with Dad when the children spend less time with him than with Mom.

If you can’t makes sense of it, can you at least understand it? Yes.

The simple, if unpopular, fact is that generally courts favor the mothers in these situations. It’s not fair. It’s sexist. The courts find excuses for it anyway. And you have to remember that it’s not a matter of what you know to be the case or even what your ex-wife knows to be the case, but what you can prove to the court and what stories the court will and will not believe. Most (not all, but most) judges and commissioners in family law matters are shockingly inattentive and apathetic in these situations. They often shamelessly prejudge such cases and believe they have the whole thing worked out before they read your pleadings, if they read your pleadings.

I’ve seen many cases just like yours where the parents share joint custody, with one parent spending more time with the kids than the other (even if it’s just a few days or weeks), then one of the parents decides to relocate, and the heartbroken parent who’s not moving who is trying desperately to preserve the relationships with the kids and wondering why it is that one parent can just up and leave with impunity.

I hope I’ve explained adequately why it is that a person in your position is at a clear disadvantage. It’s not fair, but it’s reality. You need to know what you’re really dealing with (not what you appear to be dealing with on the surface) before you can react in any kind of successful way.

Please understand that I am not saying there is no hope. While you have several factors working against you, I’ve suggested how you might overcome those disadvantages.

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

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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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