Child custody: is there a bias against fathers?

It's a common question that many attorneys get from divorcing dads. Most have heard that the courts have traditionally favored women in custody agreement, seemingly tossing the father aside as an unnecessary component of the post-divorce family unit.

The statistics certainly seem to show an institutional bias against men. In fact, according to the most recent census data, men get custody only 17% of the time. In addition, dads get less financial support than moms. There's also no shortage of stories where the court awarded custody to the mother despite evidence that — 1. The mother was unfit; or 2. The father was better equipped to take care of the child. However, as Mark Twain once said, "Data is like garbage. You'd better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it."

In other words, data without the proper perspective doesn't tell the whole story. We make the assumption that all of these custody agreements are handed down on high from a biased court system. However, the fact is that the vast majority of custody agreements are settled outside the courtroom. That means both sides — the mother and the father — are sitting down and coming to an agreement that's in the best interests of the child.

Is the system perfect? Not even close. Does it make mistakes that profoundly affect lives? Yes. Whether you believe that things are skewed in women's favor or not, having an attorney by your side to argue your case for custody may be the best way to make sure your children get the best situation possible.

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