Deciding over children custody has always been a divisive, if not an emotionally laden issue. In most cases however, it is not surprising to see that most court decisions tend to award custody disputes in favor of mothers. At first glance, it may seem that court judges see mothers as naturally better parents. And there are not without good reasons to think why this is so.
Mothers, by right of mere logic, are the ones who bring children into the world, and are therefore responsible for carrying and birthing them; so it immediately seems that they will naturally do more for children throughout their lives in order to help and care for them, inasmuch as they have already done much of this work months before children even enter the world. But while these reasons are already in themselves truthful, and are thus often taken by judicial courts as sound premises to support custody decisions in favor of mothers, it cannot be denied that there are certain biases towards fathers that are committed in the process.
In many court decisions, it seems axiomatic to say that male persons – fathers, that is – are not being given the same amount of esteem and recognition being accorded to female mothers. This paper thus argues that there is an existing bias towards fathers in the court system that determines custody cases. And while there are many observations to support such a claim, it may be good to cite at least three. Bias Towards Fathers in Children Custody Decisions
First, it is quite logical to surmise that the general perception about fathers – and the gender role stereotypes that come with such perception – contributes a lot to why mothers are frequently awarded with children’s custody in many court proceedings, specifically during divorce hearings. Men are not now nor have ever been consistently viewed as suitable caregivers. At the very least, they seem not be as nurturing as mothers. Their sole responsibility is to be destined, it seems, to provide for their family, and not to specifically nurture children.
Thus, children and their mothers will always have a stronger attachment because mothers spend much more time caring for the children, whereas the father figure is more often seen to be better suited to be a hardworking, confident, and always providing role model. Besides, it has been argued that, on account of their being relatively unattached both physically and emotionally, divorced fathers “are more likely to be remarried” than their female counterparts (Ambert, 2005).
Second, statistical records point to an indisputable fact that decisions favoring maternal custody of children reveal a lopsided trend. According to a report by the Canadian Department of Justice, 75% of divorce cases finalized by a contested hearing resulted in sole maternal custody and only 8% in sole paternal custody (Pulkingham, 1994). Meanwhile, in a more recent finding, it was observed that in both the United States and Canada, mothers were more likely to be awarded with children’s “physical custody” over fathers.
It was moreover said that only 10-12% of children were ordered to live with their fathers; a trend which has been observed for many years now (Ambert, 2005). Present trends seem to always favor mothers. In fact, Maccoby, Depner and Mnookin affirm that while practical norms suggest that fathers must “remain involved” with children after divorce, many parents are “not rejecting the idea that children, particularly very young ones, should have their major residence with their mothers” (cited in Hetherington and Arasteh, ed, 1998, p. 112).
Third, legal stipulations governing custody disputes also favor mothers more than fathers on account of certain stereotypes as well. One must note that the judicial system was in principle established to look out for the best interests of the innocent as well as those who are unable to secure basic protection of rights for themselves. Who is thus more in need of a judge’s guidance and assistance than the innocent and naive fully dependent beings as children? While men are not to be totally recognized as selfish beings, there are real problems surrounding their reputation.
And it seems that their disgraceful track record pointing to how violent can male persons can become compared to female counterparts – at homes and the larger communities alike – is becoming more and more patent. In fact, “according to the Vancouver Police Department, of the 135 cases of violence and/or intimidation in intimate relations reported to the VPD in the month of July 1996, 88 percent of the suspects were male, and only 12 percent were female” (Richard, 1996).
In marriages and relationships alike, it seems that sooner or later, men are far more likely than women to get violent or at least get verbally aggressive and threatening with their partners and spouses. These phenomena surely influence, one way or another, the creation of significant paternal restrictions in dealing with custody disputes. By Way of Conclusion: How Custody Cases Should Be Decided Drawing from the points that the discussions were able to present, this paper concludes with the thought that paternal custody for children evidently suffers from misjudged perspectives involving restrictive gender roles and stereotypes.
The factors that were cited all seem to point to this long-known trend. The numbers have been, and I believe will always be in the favour of women – that women out of personal want or societal onus will always feel the urge to be more of the parent and provider for their children. But custody cases should be decided not on account of existing gender role assignment or biased stereotypes against the male gender. On the contrary, custody disputes must be decided upon without any compromise to the equal footing each parent – whether male or female – must be accorded in the process.
Both parents must be accorded with equal time for visitation, residence and financial support; inasmuch as both parents are responsible for the well being of their children despite the failure in marital union. Works Cited Ambert, A. (2005). Divorce: Facts, Causes and Consequences. Retrieved 08 July 2008, from http://www. vifamily. ca/library/cft/divorce_05. html#Custody Maccoby, E. , Depner, C. , and Mnookin, R. “Custody of Children Following Divorce” in Mavis Hetherington and Josephine Arasteh, editors. (1988) Impact of Divorce, Single Parenting and Stepparenting on Children.
Hillsdale, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Pulkingham, J. (1994) “Contested Custody Claims in Canada”. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 9, 73-97. Retrieved 08 July 2008, from http://fathersforlife. org/millar/custody. htm. Richard, C. (1996). “Vancouver Police Department, ‘Violence and Intimidation Against Women in Relationships: January to July 1996’” as compiled by Margaret Denike & Agnes Huang (1998). Myths and Realities of Custody and Access. Retrieved 08 July 2008, from http://www. harbour. sfu. ca/freda/reports/myths. htm.