Tag: sexual discrimination

When flawed thinking is tragic thinking (thank goodness)

I frequently encounter comments made in child custody disputes to the effect that “courts favor the nurturing and detailed attentiveness of mothers over fathers.” 

I am as grateful for such comments as I am disheartened by them. Grateful because they reveal a common and recurring flaw in so many people’s thinking—and identifying the problem is the first step toward solving it. Disheartened because they reveal a common and recurring flaw in so many people’s thinking—which makes correcting it such a daunting task.  

Such comments commit the fallacy of indulging a sexist, stereotypical, and (thus) false presumption that “good mothers are better and more necessary parents than good fathers.” When courts commit this fallacy, then the notion of basing a court’s decisions on evidence and proof in each individual case are illusory. Yet frankly, that is exactly what most judges do in making the child custody award.  

Some judges do this by essentially requiring a good father to “prove” that he is “just as good as and just as qualified a parent as” as an archetypal mother. This is an impossible standard for a father to meet because a) such archetypes necessarily exist only in the imagination, not in the real world; and b) not only can real-world fathers not meet this impossible standard, but neither can real-world mothers, for that matter.  

These judges follow unwritten rules that rig the game (some judges knowingly rig the game, others do so unwittingly due to their deep-seated biases and prejudices):  

1) that to be worthy of joint physical custody of their children fathers who are good parents by every reasonable standard must be the equivalent of mothers; and  

2) good mothers possess crucial and unique qualities fathers cannot possess.  

Thus, merely good fathers can never be worthy of sharing joint equal custody with a good mother. Perversely, for a child to enjoy being reared by both good parents equally, the father must prove either himself superior as a parent to the mother (which, as I have demonstrated above, is virtually impossible) or show the good mother to be found wanting (in one way or another) such that the only way to compensate is “unfortunately” an award of joint equal physical custody to the father.  

Decent, loving, fit parents never have been and never will be perfect, which is why I cannot understand how a court would deny a child the benefits of being reared as much as possible by both of its decent, loving, and fit parents. This is why (to crib from C.S. Lewis) asking which of a child’s fit and loving parents is the “better” or “more necessary” parent is like asking which blade of the scissors is better or more necessary.  

The “best parent” is both good parents. Give the child the benefit of all of the good traits each good parent brings to a child’s upbringing. We cannot expect a child to tailor the fabric of his life successfully with only one blade of the scissors in hand. As a recent billboard so poignantly states, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” 

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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Father has 50/50 custody. Now ex is trying to take it away. What to do?

I am a father who has exercised at least 50/50 custody with my ex. Now she’s trying to take me to court for full custody and me getting every other weekend visits. How can I avoid losing 50/50 custody?

First, thank your lucky stars you are a father who currently has 50/50 custody of his children. Far, far too many fit and loving fathers who could easily exercise joint equal physical custody of their children and whose children would do nothing but benefit from the exercise of joint equal custody are needlessly and unjustifiably denied a joint equal child custody award by courts who simply cannot bring themselves to believe, much less conceive of, the idea that children being reared by both parents equally is better than relegating one parent to second class visitor status in his child’s life.

Second, the fact that you have been exercising at least 50–50 custody of your children for the past few years helps to make it much harder for your ex to build a case against you for modifying the child custody award in a manner that deprives both father and children of a 50–50 custody schedule. Again, be grateful this is the case, because if you were trying to win 50–50 custody of your children on the first go around during your divorce or other child custody legal action, the odds are grossly stacked against fit and loving fathers.

Third, if you are afraid that your judge is going to discriminate against you on the basis of sex, you need to understand this principle: “if it isn’t close, there cheating won’t matter.” Otherwise stated, you need to ensure that you win six ways from Sunday. you have to bring overwhelming amounts of evidence and proof into court, so that you leave the judge no option but to rule in your favor. Easier said than done, certainly, but now is not the time to become complacent or substitute hope for effort. Spare no expense to preserve your joint equal physical custody award. A necessary component of a winning case is that you are living a life beyond reproach. Get your house in order. If there is anything remotely amiss in your life, correct course immediately, clearly, and permanently.

Fourth, make sure you understand and that your attorney understands what statutory and case law factors and criteria govern the original child custody award and a petition to modify the original child custody award. It may be that your ex does not have sufficient grounds for a petition to modify child custody to survive a motion to dismiss.

Fifth and finally, do not take on a petition to modify child custody alone, without a vigilant and skilled attorneys assistance. There is an undeniable culture of bias and discrimination and prejudice against fathers when it comes to courts making child custody awards. This doesn’t mean that every judge in every court indulges in sexual discrimination against father, but it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between an impartial judge and a biased one, and so you need an attorney who will not suffer fools gladly, who will defend the joint equal custody award.

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

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Are divorce courts biased towards either gender?

Are divorce courts biased towards either gender?

In my educated and experienced opinion, yes, in most (not all) cases.

It’s not usually motivated by animus toward men or women (although there are some judges who are clearly biased against men or women), primarily it’s culturally motivated.

Culturally in the U.S. there is a deep-seated belief that:

Child Custody

  • children need the care and attention of their mothers more than they need the care and attention of their fathers;
  • women are better parents than men;
  • mothers take a greater interest in their children’s welfare than do men;
  • children fare better when they spend most of their time in one place, as opposed to “bouncing back and forth” between two parents’ separate homes;
  • asking children how they feel about their parents and what their desires are for child custody and visitation is a bad idea—they are too immature, too easily coached, and will be traumatized by telling the court what they desire.


  • wives are dependent upon men for their financial support and well-being;
  • men can bounce back from the economic and financial setbacks of divorce easier than women can.

To be sure, some of these beliefs hold true in many divorce situations (but not in all of them!). The problem arises when legislators and judges confuse these beliefs with universal principles that apply to every family.

Thus, whether they realize they are doing it, far too many legislators and judges fall prey to cultural biases when deciding divorce and child custody cases. They substitute a thorough and impartial analysis of each particular case with “eh, odds are that the kids are better off with Mom” and/or “eh, odds are wife deserves alimony” and/or “the kids will somehow miraculously stay emotionally close to the noncustodial parent by relegating the noncustodial parent to ‘visitor’ status every other weekend and a few other times throughout the year.” Children get short shrift because the courts usually (at least in the state in which I practice) generally ignore their direct input when crafting the child custody award.

Don’t misunderstand me. Frankly, in my experience and as a general matter, women often are the better parents, frequently when children are infants. Women frequently (though less frequently with each generation) are financially dependent upon their husbands. Sometimes one parent is the more organized and disciplined custodian than the other. But too many legislators and judges craft laws, policies, and decrees around rules of thumb that simply do not apply universally (or fairly) to all families and people. The result is inequity and injustice for a parent and for the children. They deserve better than perfunctory laws and decrees that derive from laziness, jadedness, and gut feelings.

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

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