Gender Bias in the U.S. Family Court System

Despite United States’ Law prohibition against gender discrimination in the court systems, the legal pendulum has been swinging to extremes with gender bias becoming more rampant in the family court system. The 2002 report produced by National Organization for Women points that family courts are more inclined towards favoring men over women in most divorce cases. However, the father’s rights movements are saying that the family court system is unfair towards them by forcing them to prove their innocence, while women who file the divorces do not prove their credibility in filing a divorce case. They further state that the court system views men as incapable of participating meaningfully in the active caring of their children and hence deny them children custodianship (Perter, 2011). A review of further statics on gender bias in the family as shown below shows the extreme to which gender biasing has penetrated the family court system.

Gender bias

Statistics put forth by a women lobbyist organization; National Organization, explicitly show that fathers seeking custodianship through courts usually win joint or sole custody 40% to 60% more than women. The organization puts across that most judges give men custodies because they believe that men requesting custodianship are good fathers or want to safeguard their children from ‘unfit’ ‘mothers. Statics also indicated that in most divorce cases, judges have double standards for both mothers and fathers whereby they gave credit to fathers for minimal parenting while they criticized mothers on the ground of whether they dare take time for themselves (Hanford, 2011).

Custody Preparations for Moms Organization (CPMO), further puts across that among 70% of challenged cases where the husband butters the wife, authorities are 2 times more likely to give undeserving sole custody to fathers in spite of ample evidence (CPM, 2011). Studies were done by CPM also show that the private counsel in the court system is more inclined to represent men in divorce cases with the notion that women are likely to lack adequate counsel fees. The studies show that this makes it hard for women to win custodianship or wife battery cases. Statistics also show that only 20% of women filing for alimony awards receive them and among the 20%, only 10% receive inadequate awards. This is because the court judges undermine the value of women as homemakers and as a result, older homemakers barely receive sufficient child support (Cuthbert, 2011).

On the other hand, most fathers’ lobbyists’ organizations indicate that the family court system makes their ruling based on who files the divorce first. According to the Fathers for Life organization, most fathers are reluctant to break their families and therefore avoid filing a divorce. As a result, over 75% of divorce cases are filed by women who end up winning the case. For instance, among the 46,000 divorce cases filed first by women in Virginia and Montana, 95% of the custodians were women (Schneider, 2011). Research conducted by the father’s Rights Foundation further indicated that in most cases, women are regarded as the true victims and always as the best parents. This is supported by 80% – 90% of maternal preference studies that state that most coerced child custody is given to women without the judges allowing men to contest.

Dardsdivorce.com report also shows that among the Winscon Family court 9,500 divorce cases initiated from 2003 to 2006, 73% of placements went to mothers while only 8.5 were given to fathers. The report further states that over the 80% unequally shared placement rewards beyond 60% of them gave mothers great children placement. Women become remorseful during the proceedings and this inclines the court judges into believing that fathers are to blame for most divorces. A father’s lobbyist group known as Father’s Right to Custody shows that mothers who have primary placement get over 94.5% child support awards while only a fraction of 41.9% of fathers gets the support award. The lobbyist group also notes that the family court system continually manipulates the child support policy to make fathers get inequitable awards while mothers with shared placement families and considerable income barely contribute towards children support (Thacker, 2002). For instance, in a landmark court case Luciani v Monemmumo case, Wisconsin Supreme court judges showed no concern when the father produced enough proof and he had the ability to provide proper living conditions just like the mother during his physical placement with the children (Thacker, 2002).

As we have seen, gender bias is eminent in the family court system. Statistics shown above undermine the family legal system. However, there is no substantial evidence to prove that men are more biased than women on the ground of children custodianship and paternity, and neither can we say that women are more biased than men. Therefore, the only conclusion that we can draw up is that both men and women are victims of gender bias that has been steered by the family court system and the judiciary system should take action to mitigate gender bias in family court systems (Gallo, 2004).

References

Custody Preparation for Moms. (2011). The Batterer as Parent. Web.

Cuthbert, C. (2011). Violence against Women”. Web.

Gallo, N.R. (2004).Introduction to Family Law. New York: John & Wiley

Hanford, C. (2011). Women Face Gender Bias and a NOW Chapter Comes Under Fire. Web.

Perter, J. (2011). Family Courts: Discrimination against Men for Being Men. Web.

Schneider, W. (2011). Dads & things. Web.

Thacker, A. (2002). Women & the Law. New York: Spinifex Press