The inherent bias that you often find in the divorce court system has roots in the fact that mothers used to stay home and raise children in most households, while men used to go to work and provide for their families. A lot of courts still prefer to give mothers custody of the children, sometimes ignoring fathers’ rights entirely.
There are a lot of problems here, one of which is that the work landscape has changed. Women work more often than they did in the 1950s. Men stay at home with the kids more often. Even so, you may find that your rights still get ignored in court, even when it doesn’t seem to make logical sense.
A father’s story
To see how this can play out, consider one father’s story. He wanted to split custody with his spouse during their divorce. He wasn’t trying to stop her from having their son some of the time, but he just wanted it to be fair.
He thought he would get it. He was one of the child’s main caregivers, after all, since he had a work-from-home job. He wasn’t getting up and leaving for work in a suit and tie every morning. His son already saw him every day and he already cared for him. Shouldn’t that continue?
Well, his ex didn’t think so, and neither did the court. She fought to get nearly sole custody. The man ended up with a mere every-other-weekend arrangement. To say that it left a bad taste in his mouth is an understatement.
“The overwhelming impression I had from the court system was pure disinterest,” the man said in an interview afterward. He claimed that the just sided with his spouse completely, giving her everything she wanted without asking questions. He questioned if the paperwork he provided was even read. When he told the judge that he wanted to be engaged and be part of the child’s life, he claims that the judge was disinterested and bemused at the idea of a father wanting to stay involved.
Needless to say, he felt incredibly frustrated. Not only did the court not take his desires into account, but they didn’t even seem to take them seriously. What did he have to do to prove that he wanted a role in his son’s life? Wasn’t just being the boy’s father enough?
Not all courts are the same, of course, but this shows you some of the challenges that you may face. If you do, be very sure you understand your rights and all of the legal options you have.