There once may have been a day where the United States court system was 100% unbiased, but if those days ever existed, they’re lost to the annals of courtroom history books. Long ago, there certainly was a time where women were oppressed in the courts, but with rampant cases against men for abuse, negligence, and carelessness, men have become the oppressed … and too often, the court system is the oppressor. Here are a few ways men are being penalized and criminalized in the family courts, and what we, as men’s rights advocates, can do about it:
Freedom of Divorce: The Exchange and Bargain Theory
A popular sociological theory commonly known as The Exchange and Bargain Theory simply states that a spouse with more resources—income, self-sufficiency, and independency—has greater bargaining power when marital dissatisfaction arises. Simply put, a woman with a good job and the ability to care for herself has more freedom and more resources alone than with her current spouse.
In the eyes of the court, this means that an independent woman who has the confidence to file for a divorce can provide a better life for herself, her children, and better care for the possessions she takes with her away from the marriage.
Changes to the Gender System: Working Moms
Another theory behind some of the gender bias we’re seeing in the court system relates to a mother’s expectations. Years ago, mothers were expected to do one thing: be mothers. But as gender roles have evolved in society, more and more mothers are working instead of staying home.
What this means is the mother’s role in the family seems far more important than meets the eye. Courts can see the place of an employed mother, homemaker, and wife as having greater value to the family. In reality, your role as a father and husband takes equal, sometimes greater, precedence in your household as its head.
While the theory seems sound, data doesn’t actually back up the reality. This 2013 U.S. Census Bureau report tells us that up until the financial collapse of 2008, over 70 percent of custodial fathers were employed full-time while, on average, half or less than half of custodial mothers were employed full-time. What we can deduce from the data is that fathers are working more and working harder to support their children . . . and mothers, while gainfully employed, are working less and are dependent on others to care for their children. Yet, mothers are being awarded more custody and more child support while working less themselves.
To the Mother Goes the Spoils: Stats on Custody Granted
The same 2013 U.S. Census report shows that almost 12,000 mothers were custodial parents of their children compared to only about 2,500 fathers in 2011. The U.S. Census Bureau defines this statistic, essentially, as children living with one of their parents without the other parent in the home. This tells two tales: 1) more fathers are absentee parents and 2) the court is awarding custody to more mothers based on these data instead of situational facts.
If we dig even deeper into the Bureau’s findings, we see that mothers are almost twice as likely to have been awarded child support. In 2011, 53.4 percent of custodial mothers were awarded child support while only 28.8 percent of fathers got the same. While the bias is clearly apparent given the data, perhaps the most surprising statistic is that the percentage of custodial mothers has actually decreased since 1993 (the first year of data published in the study).
All in all, men are getting the short end of the stick in both child custody and child support matters despite a trend moving in their favor. Fortunately, there are lawyers and lawmakers still looking out for men’s rights and fighting to move the needle even more within the family courts.
Gender Bias in the Court: Fact or Fiction?
It’s no secret that men are often given the upper hand in the boardroom and generally more respect in the workplace. It’s no surprise that one would assume that those same sorts of social stigmas would remain intact in the courtroom. The truth is, however, we see more favor towards women in criminal cases at large by lesser sentences and shortened jail time. But we have to ask, is this truly bias?
The short answer is YES. Bias is inevitably part of our court system. Men are constantly the focus of abuse and poor parenting, but women are equally prone to the same problems. Some women have even been known to file false reports to get what they want at the expense of an otherwise innocent father. Still, the courts persist with these false notions, but one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.
Fixing the System: Advocating for Men’s Rights
Competent lawyers are still looking out for men’s rights, and The Firm For Men is a man’s greatest ally in divorce litigation. For over a decade, we’ve been serving the men of Hampton Roads, from Virginia Beach to Suffolk, Hampton to Yorktown. A qualified men’s divorce attorney can advise you of your rights and keep you from becoming another statistic in the United States court system. Talk to a competent attorney today and get the representation you deserve. Call us NOW at 757-383-9184 or get in touch with us online.