Parental Rights in Custody Cases: Are Moms and Dads Treated Equally?

a couple holding the hands of their daughter

Kristen Curette Hines/Stocksy

When it comes to parental rights, fathers often fear a bias or discrimination in favor of mothers in child custody and child support cases. In fact, this is a question that comes up frequently in court cases. Let's explore reasons why fathers believe a bias exists during child custody and child support cases:

Perspectives on Parental Rights and Child Custody

Traditionally, mothers were the ones who reared their children, while fathers served as providers. Mothers remained at home, while fathers supported the family. During that time, if a divorce or separation occurred, it was automatically assumed that a mother would assume primary responsibility for a child, while a father would continue to provide support. 

In today's society, fathers can be awarded primary custody as well as joint custody. In fact, judges are and should be eager to grant fathers custody of their children when doing so serves the best interests of the child. 

Myths and Biases 

Biases against fathers in child custody situations exist in several states, although such biases vary among different courts. Here is some information about the reasons that gave been given in court to support biases against fathers:

  • "Fathers aren't nurturing and loving enough towards children."
  • "Fathers do not have time to take care of a child."
  • "Fathers are not knowledgeable enough about child rearing."

While the perception of the courts is changing in modern times, fathers should not become complacent about their custody battle. Biases and prejudices do not go away overnight and opinions will differ with every judge. 

How Fathers Can Prepare Themselves Against Biases in Court

Although we accept that fathers may face biases in court, fathers should follow the advice below to prepare themselves for a child custody battle:

  • Hire a qualified attorney that believes that fathers are as qualified as mothers to raise children
  • Ensure the communication between the father and the child's mother is intact, especially if the father is seeking joint custody
  • Develop a parenting plan
  • Present proof of an established relationship between the father and the child
  • Believe in your abilities as a good father

The Best Interests of the Child

Some courts still find that it is the best interests of the child for the mother to have custody. Even though this should not be presumed without considering the facts of each case in detail, it does happen. As an alternative to showing a bias towards one parent over the other, the court should focus on:

  • Each parent's ability to financially support the child
  • Each parent's relationship with the child
  • Communication between both parents
  • The needs of the child
  • Other relevant factors as determined by the court

Fathers who are seeking custody of children should prepare themselves as best as possible for a child custody battle to exercise their full parental rights. However, fathers should recognize the reality that some courts may have a bias in favor of mothers. For more information about child support or child custody, visit the specific child custody guidelines of your state or you may speak with a qualified attorney in your state.

Watch Now: Talking to Your Children About Your Divorce