Child Custody: There Is No Gender Bias During Custody Decisions

Gender Bias Child Custody
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Why Do Fathers Give Up Custody Instead of Fight For Custody?

I hear a lot about how the courts are biased in favor of mothers when it comes to deciding child custody. After doing a bit of research on the subject I've come to the conclusion, based on child custody statistics, that the courts are not the reason mothers gain custody in the majority of divorces.

Below are a few stats from a Pew Research Center analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) released in June of 2011.

Married Fathers:

A married father spends, on average 6.5 hours a week taking part in primary child care activities with his children. The married mother spends, on average 12.9 hours.  Since two-income households are now the norm, not the exception, the above information indicates that not only are mothers working they are also doing twice as much child care as fathers.

It only makes sense that mothers who have a closer bond due to the time spent caring for a child be the one more likely to obtain custody during a divorce. But, with changing attitudes toward child custody fathers are still likely to gain at least 50/50 custody if they are willing to fight for it. 

Divorced or Unwed Fathers:

More startling are the stats on absent fathers, or the amount of time fathers spend with children once the divorce is final. According to the Pew Research study, when fathers and children live separately 22% of fathers see their children more than once a week. Twenty-nine percent of fathers see their children, 1-4 times a month. The most disturbing though, 27% of fathers have no contact with their children.

When you take into consideration that mothers spend more time taking care of children before divorce and only 22% of fathers take advantage of spending what I would consider quality and quantitative time with their children after the divorce the fact that more mothers obtain custody seems reasonable...doesn't it?

What doesn't seem reasonable is the noise that the Men's Rights movement makes about gender bias in Family Court, not based on the statistics above, anyway. Seriously, if father's are interested in equal parenting time after divorce, why are the majority of them spending no time at all with their children?

How Custody is Decided:

According to the majority of child custody cases are not decided by the courts. In 51% of the cases, both parents agreed that mom be the custodial parent. In 29% of the cases, the decision was made without any third party involvement. Only 11% of custody cases were decided during mediation with as few as 5% being decided after court order custody evaluations.

In cases where both parents decided, without involvement from a mediator or the court 83% of the time the mother ended up with custody because the father chose to give her custody.

What Do Child Custody Statistics Really Tell Us?

1. Fathers are less involved in their children's care during the marriage.

2. Fathers are less involved in their children's lives after divorce.

3. Mothers gain custody because the vast majority of fathers choose to give the mother custody.

4. There is no Family Court bias in favor of mothers for the majority of fathers who divorce. The argument that Men's Rights activists make doesn't hold water. Not based on the statistics above, anyway!

Why do you suppose fathers are so quick to give most of the custody to mothers? Could it be societal bias they buy into instead of court bias? Fathers view themselves as breadwinners, the ones who provide for the family. Mothers are viewed as caretakers, the ones who take care of the children. 

Maybe those views carry over into divorce situations and play a role into the reason more men don't seek more custody and time with their children. Also, divorce attorneys are old school and most will tell a father that gaining more custody rights will be an uphill battle. With self-imposed societal views, lazy divorce attorneys and men's rights groups pushing the notion of gender bias, it is no wonder fewer men give up before even trying. 

If you are a father reading this, I urge you to find an attorney willing to go to bat for you and your relationship with your children. It may cost you more but, being able to parent equally with your ex is worth the investment. 

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