Divorce and the pro-mother slant of the courts

As an end note to my second to last post, the reason that they have to take any qualified woman is because they are far under quota, if they had >53% women, gender wouldn’t come into play. However, far fewer women apply.

More women stay home when their children are small. This has 2 major implications for questions of custody.

One is that because many women had significant time out of the workforce, they are more likely to have lower paying jobs. If you were out of the work world for 10 years, insted of working your way up the ladder, it just makes sense you’d start again at a lower rung.

This can be seen as making women the less desirable parent because they have more limited financial resources.

On the other hand, if the woman was at home full time with the children, they are likely to be more traumatized by the idea of being separated from her. The kids are used to the way the mom runs the household, how she gives a bath, what her rules are for bedtime etc.

This can be seen as making it more desirable for the mother to have custody in order to minimize the disruption in an already traumatic situation.

This is not an adequate cite. I understand you’re new, but the unwritten rule in GD here is that when you make a claim, you should have a cite to back it up-and by cite we don’t mean hearsay, or “My friend told me…”

Cite would be:
Magazine article

In other words, something we can go and check for ourselves.

No, I’m not even remotely joking. The question was not as you posed it, the questions were, verbatim:

Your initials posts were followed up with these questions:

I followed up Eva Luna’s question with this one:

None of these questions asked anything at all about your personal experience or “what” you “see every day”.

Your experience is meaningless when you are making universal claims. It might be meaningful if you could back up your assertions with more than “just because” or “it’s what I see every day” (See Guinastasia’s informative post). In your line of work, all you see everyday are the worst case scenarios. That hardly qualifies you to make such universal claims.

I have to rely on my own experience on this one. I am a rural lawyer in a general practice. Over the last 35 years I have represented mothers, fathers and children in hundreds of divorces (in my state called dissolutions of marriage to differentiate from the former divorce system that required some proof of fault and breach of the civil contract in order to obtain a judicial decree). I’m not at all sure that any amount of statics tells the whole story unless the figures are broken down into contested and settled cases. A few observations:

The vast bulk of divorces are settled by an agreement made by the parties and submitted to the judge and approved by the judge without any sort of hearing.

In the vast bulk of the settled cases the physical custody of the children goes to the mother because the father wants it that way–young children are after all a substantial burden, a social impediment and an expense that is seldom met by court ordered child support, assuming it is even fully paid.

In my state joint custody is the default setting and the court is required to give good and cogent reasons if it departs from joint custody. Joint custody does not mean shared physical custody. Joint custody refers to the right of both parents to have input in the child’s life–where he goes to school, what sort of medical treatment the child receives, what sort of religious education he gets, who has access to school records and that sort of thing. The usual arrangement in uncontested divorces is that the parties have joint legal custody and the child is in the mother’s physical custody and resides with the mother.

In contested cases when the parties are actually fighting over the custody of the children, the fight is often not to have the child but to avoid the obligation to pay child support and medical support. Even though kids are expensive to raise and the guidelines promulgated by the state supreme court do not come close to meeting the child’s complete financial needs, some people are adamant about not wanting to be faced with the financial obligation. Others are equally adamant that they will not pay any amount to their ex-spouse for any reason.

While there are bound to be some close cases in which the wisdom of Solomon would be necessary (I’m sure that the woman who claimed the baby in Solomon’s case but who did not get it thought that she was the victim of a huge injustice) many child custody cases are pretty obvious. In all too many of the obvious cases the rational decision is to go find some third person because neither of the parents ought to be allowed to raise a child.

I have not seen a general bias in favor of the mother. Some judges I deal with need to be persuaded more than others, but in general the judges I deal with tend to make a pretty dispassionate and even handed decision to put the child with the parent who the evidence shows is disposed and capable of best advancing the welfare of the child.

It is also my experience that with a few notable exceptions, the parent that loses a custody fight thinks that he has been screwed by an incompetent lawyer, a shyster lawyer or a bias judge. Few losing parents are willing to acknowledge that the fault is not in their stars but in them selves.

There are, of course, exceptions. That is why there is an appeal process and the opportunity to modify a decree if things go wrong.

I think you must be. That was not the question I answered. The question I responded to that got your attention was
“Why do you think women are less satble in those situations?”
Since I’d already covered my reasoning, I could only surmise that it was a “Why is the sky blue?” type question. Because it is, that’s why.

Moving right along. . .

These were answered. To be concise. . .
The same reason an unmarried male would not be as fit a parental choice. They have to work for a living. This takes neccessary time away from child rearing and increases the general hardship of almost all situations involved.
If you can’t see the logic in that, I certainly can’t help your point of view.

I hardley see how. I can only assume you have personal reasons for feeling that way. Seeing the worst of the worst, day in, day out, hardley diminishes my assesments in any way. Sorry.
In fact, seeing these things can only serve to make any sane individual seek out fairness and the the harsh light of truth in any and every case worked.

BTW, to clarify. . . As I understand it, the OP is reffering to cases where the father is actually requesting some level of custody/visitaion, etc. . .

Two points/questions. . .


FWIW, I should clarify that my experience does reffer only to cases involving DM and neglect on a criminal level (which of course nearly always leads to a review of the family court documentation involved. . .) I should say that I know of very few biased judges in my jurisdiction. However, here the problem is more one of their hands being tied by near ludicrous “standards” they must abide by and worse yet, standards that they are not supposed to be taking into consideration.
A good example of this being that a parent’s dealings with any stepchild or child that is not the product of a union between the contesting parties is absoultey inadmisable as evidence of parental competence for better or worse.
IMHO, yes there are indeed people will cry foul play at the drop of a cat, but at least here, the “rules of the game,” more than anything else, seem to insure that a just (being what’s in the child’s best interest of course), decision, is near impossible to come by without extensive review. It just seems that almost eveyr other state in the union has a more efficient way of dealing with this. By the way, in the Free State, we do not have assumed JC as a rule. This must be approved by a judge, either by hearing, negotiation, or mediation.


It’s says you’re from NW Iowa. I have family in Sioux City that I am planning to visit for Thanksgiving. Any idea what the weather is like that time of year?



“To better reflect the cultural diversity of the citizens of Saskatoon, we are comitted to increasing the number of women, individuals with disabilities, visible minorities and Aboriginal people within the organization.”

Or something very similar to that in the recruitment pdf. I can’t find the exact numbers on the net, but this shouldn’t be surprising, given that it’s in Canada…

" I’m not at all sure that any amount of statics tells the whole story unless the figures are broken down into contested and settled cases"

Those stats were only for cases settled by the courts.

I Eat Food said, “Women will almost universally take a year or two longer to remarry. This leaves her as a less stable alternative for raising a child.”

Cite? Oh, and (cough)bullshit(cough)

No. Not good enough for GD. See Guin’s post above.

Aha. This was left out of your original post, when you said women were not fit as a parental choice. Now its any single person.

Who’s supposed to do it then? If the divorced male is an “unmarried male” per above then he too is disqualified in your book.

What? Married parents don’t work?


Firstly, Yes it is. Guin simply saying differently does not make it so.

Secondly, I do not have a book out. Yet. Odd that you should think otherwise though.

Married parents do work, though in many cases only one parent is employed full time. Also, virtually anyone who has been there before can tell you that it is much easier and productive when one parent can take up more slack as it were, when the need arises. I believe someone already covered that here.

Single parenthood is a last resort, not a fashion statement. Keep that in mind, people.
your dislike of a certain and very obvious reality does not an ounce of Bullshit make. Sorry to dissapoint you there kido. I happen to disagree greatly with the way my tax-dollars are spent. Should I decide that income tax no longer exists and refuse to pay them in that case? G’nite.

Also Sprach Cecil!


Lol, I should have know that was anwered by Cecil. 10 points.


Lol, I should have known that was covered by Cecil. 10 points.

How droll that you should point out my own post to me.

Really. I disagree. It’s bad form to make statements which cannot be supported.

I meant it as a figure of speech. Perhaps I should have said “by your standards”. And you have yet to address the issue - do you include single dads as being unstable as well?

I don’t see where anyone in this thread said that it was. The OP asks “is there bias in the courtroom or not?”.

Again, you are stating something without anything to back it up:

Sez who? If, again, you are speaking from your own personal experience, then tell us how you have interviewed every divorced woman in the universe. Since it’s “universally” and all.

Thanks so much for the reminder. Here I thought staying in an abusive marriage was the last resort, not single parenthood. But I’m just an unstable unmarried woman, making a ‘fashion statement’, so what do I know? But I’ll be sure to rush out and get remarried asap. Thanks.

As far as the OP, I would have to second those who point out that in many cases, custody in uncontested. I got sole custody just because my ex didn’t want it. He’s a great dad, he sees our child all the time, he just didn’t want custody. It had nothing to do with my being a woman.

** IEatFood!**, yes, here at the Straight Dope we DO require you to come up with better reasons than “Because I said so” and “Because that’s just the way it IS”. The readers do not know what, if any credentials you have, other than what and how you post. The spelling and grammar errors in your posts indicate a sloppiness in writing, and most people here will infer that you are also sloppy in your thinking.

People are going to ask for some reasoning to back that up. It might also be argued that women are a MORE stable alternative for raising a child, as they are pickier about their next mates. Perhaps they have learned something from the failed relationship. However, I am just speculating here and cannot do more than speculate because you do not provide a link where I can examine these statistics myself, and see what circumstances apply.

So…do not attempt to argue that you’re an authority. As far as we’re concerned, you HAVE no authority, just some personal experience. What’s more, we’ve had too many people lie about themselves on this board to accept everything each poster says about him/herself unless it’s backed up, over time, in a consistent manner.

On the other hand, I DO have authority in telling you how the message board is run, and what expectations we have of you, as I’m both a longtime poster and an administrator here.

Violin D’Ingrate
I would have to second those who point out that in many cases, custody in uncontested. I got sole custody just because my ex didn’t want it. He’s a great dad, he sees our child all the time, he just didn’t want custody. It had nothing to do with my being a woman.

In your case that may be the truth, but if my circumstances were anything to go by its not. I would contend that the main reason why men dont try for custody is that they are advised not to. I went to 3 lawers and they all told me the same thing, we can try by all means but you would be wasting your money and time, unless you can prove that the mother is totaly unfit through drugs or drink or abuse, you have virtualy no chance of gaining custody of your children. Seeing as my divorce was fairly acrimonious custody hearings would only have made matters worse. IMHO courts are totaly biased against men and their children, as the female judge so eloquently put it to me, "Whilst i understand your wishes to see as much of your children as possible, my main concern is for your ex-wife and her future and well being , your main duties towards your children are now financial and not physical in terms of their upbringing. So, to sum up, as far as the courts are concerned my only duty to my children
is through my wallet, this may seem like a bit of a rant and i apologise if it is, but this is what my feelings have become. From the courts to social services, schools and just about any area where children are concerned, fathers have become totaly unneeded, and in many cases made to feel an inconvenience.
Children are regarded as the mothers property and hers alone, infact listen to women talking how many refer to the children as ours, its almost allways theirs. I really would like women to just for once think about what it would be like to wake in the morning without the children around them, well if you can imagine it you have just experienced the reality for 1000,s of good fathers who have to live with that everyday, so i hope you realise just how lucky you are.


PS sorry for the rant


my experience with child custody and divorce match almost exactly what Spavined Gelding describes.

Joint legal custody for both of us, full physical custody for me, visitation for him…even though it ends up being about half and half as it is. Full physical custody was granted to me, because he’s the one who moved out. I got it by default.

That was the standard, and I can’t say I disagree with it. Perhaps we in the midwest are a little more progressive in this matter than other parts of the country. Its a nice change:)