Even today, when one would think gender bias no longer exists, it still runs rampant in our U.S. court systems. Numerous studies have shown that even more so than lay people, judges tend to default to implicit bias when making decisions regarding matters in which there are traditional gender roles. Cases such as custody matters, domestic violence, and sexual assaults all fit the bill.
One study asked participants to analyze two mock court cases to determine whether gender bias exists in judicial decision-making. One of those cases was a child custody matter, and the other was a sexual discrimination lawsuit. In each, the plaintiff was presented to the parties as either male or female. They were then asked about their beliefs in traditional gender roles. For example, stereotypes such as the wife stays home to cook, clean, and take care of the children while the husband is the breadwinner.
In the child custody case, both parents were equal in that they both worked full-time jobs and contributed to the household. Also, when considering the best interests of the child, both parents had conflicts in caring for the children at times. One was not any worse than the other. However, when asked how one would rule in such a matter, those who were in support of traditional gender roles favored more custody time for the mother than the father, even though the father was equally qualified.
A father who is involved in a custody dispute can benefit from the representation of an aggressive attorney. Until we see policy changes across the board, gender bias will always exist in our courtrooms, and fathers will have to work twice as hard to prove they deserve more custodial time with their children.