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Report: Gender bias in custody cases is alive and well

Some residents of Omaha, Nebraska, may think that the old notion that a mother is, generally speaking, the best caregiver for a child is no longer relevant in parenting time and child custody decisions.

However, according to a relatively recent study that involved the opinions of several trial judges, that is, those who make important custody and parenting time decisions, gender bias in the courts is still a reality. On a practice level, this means that fathers who want liberal time with or even custody over their children may have to assume that they are fighting an uphill battle because they are men.

The family law portion of study surveyed about 375 judges. To the judges' credit, they requested this study because they wanted to be sure that their decisions were fair and impartial, uninfluenced by hidden biases.

The judges were asked to review a case. Some received one set of facts, while others received a case that was factually the same except that genders were changed. On average, judges looking at what amounts practically to the same case awarded about 12 hours more of time to the hypothetical mother as opposed to the hypothetical father.

On the other hand, several hundred non-lawyers only gave about 2 or 3 more hours to the mom than to the dad.

Hopefully, society will continue to evolve in such a way that fit dads and fit moms get treated equally in child custody and parenting time decisions. Until then, it may be especially important for a Nebraska dad to have an experienced custody attorney in his corner when he is fighting to have a relationship with his children.

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