Divorce and the pro-mother slant of the courts

According to statscan.ca, 53.5% of all cases grant custody to mothers. That sounds about right, doesn’t it? Well, 37.2% of all cases are given joint custody, and in only 9.1% of all cases is the father given custody. (The other .2% is rounding error and cases where neither is fit be a parent, I guess)

(This is for the year 2000)

This is in a country where parity in non-traditional roles is enforced. The police in Saskatchewan, for example, have to take any qualified woman over any man - even if he is much more qualified than her - because 53% (or around there) of the population of Saskatchewan is female, and parity is enforced. Please ignore the fact the nursing is not a traditional role for men, yet there is no enforced parity there. Construction is also a non traditional role for women, I might add…

So why is there no effort to change this? Why do we enforce parity, instead of equality (I’m differentiating them by saying parity is in the sense of raw numbers, and equality is in the sense of not considering gender one way or another - only ability to do the job)?

Did you ever think that a larger proportion of fathers might not want and/or request custody? I know that was the case with my parents.

First off, the fact that custody is more often awarded to mothers (at least here in the US) is probably because of how women are viewed. They are the nurturers, the home makers, the ones who raise the kids while the father is the one who goes out and works and so has less time to devote to his children.
Of course in this age of working mothers, single parents, and so on, that view is somewhat oversimplistic and child custody cases should be considered on a case by case basis, but that’s not likely to happen for a long time.
As for parity VS equality, this is largely aimed at whites and males because those who are for parity say that this is needed to correct for decades of oppression of women and minorities by white males.
To them, hiring a woman over a man, or a minority over someone who’s white, is justified because of all of the racism/sexism of the past.

Cite, please?

I believe, and this is only my opinion, that it’s easier for a man to walk away than a women, in most cases. But I’d be willing to also guess that a woman would be more willing to fight custody granted to just the male, then men would fight if it was just granted to the female.

A question. Do you have any children yourself?

  • Rune

Nope. Urban legend, hon. That may have been the case for you, but I am now the second generation in my family where precisely the reverse is fact.
If you want to look at statistics, consider this. Women will almost universally take a year or two longer to remarry. This leaves her as a less stable alternative for raising a child.
From what I see proffesionally every day (I’m in Law Enforcement here in the United States), there are as many incidences of child abuse/neglect and sadly, abandonment from the mother as from a father; more in some jurisdictions.
In this county, family law still does indeed tend to favour the mother with custody & child support, though impending legislation, not to mention increasing public awareness of the actual realities involved will likely relagate this paradigm to the fate of the ciggaratte industry.
In other words, it’s still the prevailing backdrop, but fortunately for everyone involved, those days are numbered.

I know a lot of broken families.

I know about ten who are broken because of a defiantly unemployed and chronically alcoholic father.

I know about four that involved two responsible parents who just didn’t get along.

I know exactly one that involves an unemployed, drug abusing mother.

Only the middle cases involved any custody battles at all. Alcoholics arn’t usually too interested in rasing their kids. Take from that what you will.

Court cases involve only contested custody. When someone just leaves, you don’t need a court order, you got the kid.

Here in Virginia it is far worse than 53% to women.

In my own case, County Protective Services, the Guardian ad Litem apointed by the court, the complaining witness, and two teachers all testified that my daughter should be placed with me.

The judge said that “Because of the loving nature of the mother and child relationship, she would give custody to my ex wife.”

Here in the Commonwealth, a woman has to be a drug addict, a convicted felon, or a working prostitute to be denied custody.


Yes, I am bitter.

I’d love to look at some statistics. Do you have any? I’m talking about cases in which two fit parents sought custody, but sole custody was awarded to the mother.

My situation is anecdotal, of course, but so is yours.

And why is an unmarried mother necessarily “less stable”? My dad remarried quickly, but my stepmother barely tolerated me and my sister, and Dad traveled a lot for business. Mom, on the other hand, was 100% available in all senses of the word. And she is automatically less stable because she didn’t remarry? That’s ludicrous.

I don’t doubt that there are cases in which fathers get screwed, but that’s not true 100% of the time.

Even7 Sorry to hear that. With that in your experience, I can see how it might shape your perceptions of the issue.

However, what I see nearly everyday I am in court is decidedly otherwise in nature. No doubt, there are deadbeat dads out there. However, for everyone of those I see, there is at least one father who is the victim of a what essentially amounts to a vindictive bitch who will take out her marrital “dissapointments” on both her ex, and worse yet, her child when it suits.

Unfortunately, the reality is that it would be quite ignorant/naive to assume that the woman in the equation is always a better alternative. I simply sleep better at night knowing that I have not made such errant assumptions while on the job.

If you think that’s bad, thank everything that’s holy that you live south of that River.

I had a case last week where I sat in on a prosecution involving a mother (I use the term with extreme looseness), who knowingly associated herself with a marijuana distributor (which included prostituting herself to said dealer in order to gain at cost narcotics.) She was sentenced to three months inside(shes doing her time at the state’s medsec facility in Jessup), and 18 more of probation.
The father in this particular case is no millionaire, but has a steady income at a congressional lobbyist firm, a history of responsible parenthood (currently a stepfather of two as well.)

On the family/civil end of this case, temporary custody was awarded to the con’s mother instead of the child’ father, as obviously should have been the case. But, because of a now-defunct restraining order against the father (which was canceled when proven to be of quite dubious neccesity), filed in 1999, the result was less than equitable. Unfortunately, the judge in this case did not see the need to let reality get involved with her decissions.

Tris, I certainly understand how you would be bitter. I deal with these types day in day out, and marvel after seeing masses of the truly hell-bound that I’m not bitter myself. Yet.

I don’t see anything ludicrous about it. Less stable because she just is that’s why. You have to understand that I am involved only with prosetution, not psychology. And you need to understand that the best decissions made are made in the child’s interest, not because we assume that one or the other is better, just because. Essentially, what I am saying is that I go by that based upon what I see at work. And I just don’t see nearly as many cases involving men abusing or neglecting their children. In fact, the only cases involving abusive men I have dealt with this year were cases involving spousal abuse (In this juristicting we lump all that together. Hitting your girlfriend carries the same penalty as hitting your wife. . . )
So in that regard, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe more emotion based decissions lead to her “blowing her stack” at a child more easily, who knows.

As for where I get my numbers, well it’s hard not to see that when it’s your job. Please keep in mind that a lot of cases involving fathers paying “less than they should” for child support come from nothing more real than the woman’s representation carelessly inflating what the former husband’s income “should” be. Usually he’ll agree to such bogus logic just to avoid further litigation interfering with his visitation rights. We call this practice “Green-walling” here, with the obvious implication that enough money money can dissapear even the best father from your child’s life. And if you don’t believe that, please spend an afternoon at your local county courthouse’ family court (Almost all cases are open to the public, as per your constitutional rights, etc. . .) What you will there will have no bearing whatsoever on “justice” or any other such lofty ideals. Instead expect to find nothing but shameless bagaining & compromise ruling the day.

Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. . .

How does it follow that taking longer to remarry makes women less stable?

That’s what I was thinking too.

Here is a lot of information about child custody in the US. The following quote is from the Historical Context section:

I posted this just in case anyone thinks that gender discrimination in child custody is a) anything new, and/or b) something that will last.

I can’t believe anyone would post this sort of argument in GD. Granted I haven’t been here in a while, but I thought we had higher standards than “just because”.


I don’t think anyone here is assuming that gender descrimination in judicial matters is/was anything new. As with anything, there is indeed a pendulum cycle involved here, though the analogy is not precise.
And it is indeed starting to move back toward the interest of the child. But as with any non-administrative legislative evolution, the enforcement is another matter entirely. To sit back and assume that all is well just because decision making has been mandated to be in the child’s interest will set everything back again. The issue requires constant vigilance, now, ten years from now, a century from now, etc. . . Where I work, I do not have the luxury of simply abiding by stereotype notions, especially when family cases are so often intertwined with the criminal ends.
Ultimately of course, what’s in the child’s interest should rule the day. Far more often than not, this is not the case. Not in this county, anyway. I believe this is what the OP wanted to know.

You are joking, I’m sure. I stand by what I say because it is what
I see every day. The Question was something tantamount to “Well, gee, why do you see that everyday?”
We all know there are no such things as stupid questions. . . But there are certainly ones that have nothing to do with the preice of tea in China, and deserve corresponding answers.
My point is that I do not know or care why single parents are less stable than married couples. What I do know is what I see in my courtroom Every Day. Does that simplify it enough for you? And if you have any trouble accepting the veracity of this reality, by all means, please come on down to our family court on your next day off. Once again, these are Public preceedings.
To wit, I can’t make you believe any of this, but you sure are more than welcome to witness all this first hand.


Well, at least that sheds some light on your meaning. I’d venture to guess that single parents (not just one gender or the other) could be less stable because they are spread more thinly than couples. Couples can “spell” each other now and then, whereas singles must be there “24/7”.

I don’t think this should be construed to mean that women are any more apt to be “unstable” than men. To be perfectly honest, I have seen my fiance get pretty shaky himself - he’s a single dad. I’m just as suceptible (I’m a single mom) - it’s hard for one person to be the be-all and end-all for the kids (plus running the household and making the living).

As I understand it, this is one of the arguments against divorce. And, unfortunately it is a side effect of it. In some cases, however, it is more desireable for the children to live with one parent than to live with the one who is addicted/destructive/abusive/pick your dysfunction.

My 2 cents *(based on personal experience and not statistics).

Yes, two. And yes, there was a time that this was really real for me, so I am aware of the process. And I also love my children very much.

“Cite, please?”

I have an uncle on the police force, part of his job is hiring.

“I know a lot of broken families.
I know about ten who are broken because of a defiantly unemployed and chronically alcoholic father.
I know about four that involved two responsible parents who just didn’t get along.
I know exactly one that involves an unemployed, drug abusing mother.
Only the middle cases involved any custody battles at all. Alcoholics arn’t usually too interested in rasing their kids. Take from that what you will.”

Fewer than half of men are granted joint custody or “better.” Are you suggesting that statistically, that many divorced men are alcoholics or drug abusers? Maybe more men are - but not that many more!