Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?

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anxiousmom

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Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« on: January 28, 2019, 09:26:34 PM »
I keep hearing that from people. That courts are biased towards mothers - even mothers who may have a PD or some sort of addiction, etc. More willing to overlook things if it's from the mom, not as much when it's the dad. Just curious what everyone's experience is.


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irkmandu

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2019, 11:28:55 PM »
Well, in my case I tried to be prepared for the court to be biased. I was scared because my ex was trying to convince them that I was a sexual predator intent on molesting my kids as soon as I has them alone. Fortunately, in my case, my ex couldn't keep her crazy from showing through, and I eventually ended up with sole custody (although she is allowed quite a lot of visitation).
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Downbutnotout

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 10:43:43 AM »
In my experience yes.

18 months on from divorce (which was a horrendous experience, resulting in me obtaining a court contact order, being falsely accused of many things and being prevented from seeing my children), my eldest son broke all contact with me overnight (my youngest regularly stays with me).  My eldest son's health has progressively deteriorated and despite expressing my concerns to the school, social workers etc no intervention took place.  Ultimately he was hospitalised (self harm, lack of personal hygiene, disturbed behaviour)  along with his mother who was diagnosed with psychotic episodes  (I only found out 2 days after the admission as nobody saw fit to tell me!).

I subsequently learnt of many occasions of the police and health workers previously visiting the maternal house prior to the hospitalisation and numerous occasions where the mother left the children with the maternal grandmother to stay with her partner to rest and recover  - social workers and the school were aware of this but nobody told me.  It was always down to me to have to contact the authorities.

The situation is so serious now that my eldest is being looked after by the local authority - is selectively mute (only engaging with his mother) and refuses to come out from under his bed clothes (I visit him regularly but he won't engage).  Parental alienation has been observed by his carers from comments the mother has made to my son and indeed social services want a parenting assessment on her - however the judge rejects this.  It is now at a stage where the authority is applying for an interim care order and we are in court proceedings - I fully support this as my son will finally get the help and intervention needed.

The insult is that despite me trying to engage with the mother and her family  throughout all of this and being stonewalled and alienated I am now ordered to do jointly visits with the mother to the our son and in the judges words, "play happy families".  No one listened to my concerns before, despite the numerous documented troubling events of the mother and the maternal family there is no comeback on her/them and I have to accept the indignity of "making small talk" to a person who tried to destroy me.

At least we are all going to have to undertake psychological assessments and that my son is finally getting the help he needs.

I do wonder what the situation would be if it was 180 degrees in the other direction?

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Stepping lightly

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 10:46:38 AM »
This will be a bit of a vent, and I imagine a lot of non's feel this way regardless of whether the PD is the mom or dad.  In our case, the system was extremely biased toward BM.  BM's behavior was off the charts, but always excused.  She literally stood in the middle of a basketball court screaming and spitting at us in front of the kids, calling DH a sociopath.   If DH had done even ONE of the endless things that BM had done, he would have never seen the kids again, I am sure of it.  We even had parental alienation and emotional abuse documented on her. BM went the "protective mother" route, so everything was seen in that light, her emotions ran high.  Every move DH made, was criticized and demonized.  There was absolutely nothing that we could do that BM couldn't twist into something ugly. 

We followed the CO to the letter, we never were rude to BM or her BF.   We ALWAYS focused on the kids and what was best for them, even if we really had to choke down our pride sometimes in doing so, but we always did it.  BM used the kids as pawns to punish DH, and DH lost shared custody- because nobody wanted to make BM accountable for her abuse and the kids/us couldn't sustain the battle. 

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Starboard Song

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 11:32:23 AM »
In my experience (only via our friends, thank God),
  • Courts favor mothers over fathers, as to custody
  • Courts favor strong lawyers over polite ones
  • Courts do not understand disorders, and probably are wise to not try
  • Courts favor parity and routine processing over imbalance or special consideration

My rules follow that:
  • Avoid the legal system
  • Lawyer up hard
  • In a hostile divorce proceeding, swing for the fences
Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
Healing From Family Rifts, by Sichel   |  Stop Walking on Egshells, by Mason    |    Emotional Blackmail, by Susan Forward

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D.Dan

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2019, 11:39:26 AM »
I'm also gonna go with "yes".

My upd mom's entire family (it's large), the moms are usually more abusive than the dads. Personally I've seen a lot of families where both parents are equally dangerous to the children's wellbeing but in the courts, the mom's were always given more leeway. A lot more.

But now the opposite is also true depending on the judge involved.

The judge overseeing my divorce is biased towards the fathers. Because of the women in my mom's family, I think this would normally be okay, however it seems she assumed ALL fathers were the innocent victims to their ex wives. My ex proved to her how unstable he was and she literally did a 180 after the first 20 minutes of meeting us. She actually got angry at him at the end, when in the beginning she was automatically prejudiced against me.

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Penny Lane

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2019, 12:13:46 PM »
Hi anxiousmom, I've thought about this question a lot since my DH has been in court! So I have some thoughts but I think they all coalesce into "sometimes." I asked one of my lawyer friends about DH's judge and the friend said "This judge favors the mom until the mom messes up and then the mom is basically blacklisted." That really resonated with me. It feels likely that probably judges do favor the mom but they don't do it ALL the time. But I think the bottom line is that stereotypes can be used in court against men or women, and PDs looooove to use stereotypes!

In some states the court is literally biased toward the mother in that the assumption is that the mom gets more custody. In other places (maybe most places? all places?) judges are used to awarding more custody to moms, especially if they've been judges a long time. And even nowadays I think it's way more common to have the mom do more parenting work than the dad, and judges see a lot of such cases. So I think in many cases the assumption is that the mom is the default parent - because that's the situation in most cases.

But I also think men get a lot of credit for doing basically the minimum of parenting work. Like, dads who show up at PTA meetings or stuff like that are somewhat of an anomaly so everyone is like WOW GOOD JOB when really there are dozens of moms who do the same thing every time. I imagine that translates into court as well. So in that sense the bar might be a little higher for moms - the judge expects mom to do all the parenting things whereas dads get are expected to do much less and then praised for it.

A lot of the above is more relevant in routine divorce situations, not for the really extreme case that a lot of people here are in. One thing to keep in mind when it's extreme is that judges have seen a lot of things, including a lot of lies. So all the terrible things we see with the PDs in our lives, the judges have seen someone else allege that against another parent but then drop it because it was really a court strategy. (Or maybe that's just perception and it was true all along and the person couldn't get traction so they dropped it? Anyway I feel like I've seen a lot of "why can't you two just get along" type stuff). I'm definitely with Starboard Song that courts don't understand PDs. I think judges tend to think that both parties could work it out if they just tried harder and compromised. Whereas the reality in a lot of our cases is that we've tried everything to work it out and court is a last resort. And often compromising with the PD is really bad for the kids. So male or female you have to overcome that assumption and prove that you really are being reasonable.

I'll tell you what I've seen as DH has been in court with BM for what feels like forever. It's stressful and hard on everyone. And the judge seems really unwilling to do much of anything at all. For example DH first filed because BM had suddenly stopped paying for the kids' health insurance and he wanted an emergency order to put the kids on his insurance. The judge said no! So the kids just didn't have insurance for awhile! That was pretty frustrating. And he denied a couple motions that DH made that would've really helped us protect ourselves from her. DH at first really felt like the judge was biased against dads. That might have been part of the problem but my sense - though I wasn't in the hearing - is that the judge also thought DH was overreaching. I think the judge bought into BM's allegations that this is all a strategy on DH's part not a real problem, combined with her lawyer's statements that the two of them just need to learn how to get along. But at some point it seems the tide has turned. DH has methodically settled a bunch of stuff with BM, so there are only a few issues on the table. And he's not asking for the MOST he could get, just a very reasonable midpoint. He's also articulated why every single thing he's asking for is better for the kids. BM hasn't articulated at all, to the court or to DH, what she wants, other than DH gets nothing, with no explanation of why that makes sense or is best for the kids. In the past few hearings (because they have had endless hearings on what really should be a minor matter) the judge seems to have come around somewhat to DH's arguments. I think gender stereotypes have come into play in how the process has gone. But I think a lot of other things have come into play too including the judge's desire to not rock the boat of a custody arrangement that seems to be working, without a lot of good evidence.

I would say it really depends on the judge, the lawyers, the culture of the courthouse and a whole bunch of other stuff that's not really in your control. Ultimately being the mom probably puts you in a better spot with many judges, but you still have to be vigilant about your ex trying to use it against you ("I'm just an involved dad trying to be with his kids and she's keeping me from them!" type stuff). I know this all isn't comforting and that's what's so scary about court - there are so many unknowns that factor into such an important issue for your son.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 12:26:13 PM by Penny Lane »

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Stepping lightly

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2019, 12:57:41 PM »
I agree with PL- it really is such a process and judges in general are resistant to change ANYTHING.  They don't want to make the wrong decision.  We actually had a judge that "got it", but went out on indefinite sick leave just before the critical hearing.  The replacement judge (who was pulled into family court against his desire) didn't want to bother figuring things out and just approved BM's motions which ended up forcing DH to give her custody. 

But like PL said, PDs use a lot of the same tactics in court (and non-PDs as well).  If you have a decent judge that has been in family court for awhile,  a lot of what they hear isn't new.  Mom accusing Dad of DV, Dad accusing mom of emotional abuse, Mom saying Dad isn't involved, Dad saying mom is controlling and won't let him parent.  To some extent, I feel for judges, sorting out the lies must be a nightmare.  I will often look at some of our situations and say, "If I was looking in from the outside, I can see why professionals don't know which way is up", but that is partially because BM is a complete master (literally has her masters degree in this topic).



 

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Penny Lane

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2019, 01:49:41 PM »
On the point of judges having to sort out the lies, BM has made several motions that accuse DH of doing what she does. That makes sense, right? Total projection. She accuses DH of doing what she does out of court all the time so why not in court too? I imagine it's the same for a lot of PDs. So then you have two people who are each accusing the other of the same thing. And in our case BM is really good at confusing the issue by sending lots of emails with lots of allegations and wild goose chases. So then if those show up in court, DH has to pull up the 5-10 other emails that refute them. But in THOSE emails BM makes different unfounded allegations so it goes on and on forever. At some point there are so many allegations and documents flying around I can see how the judge wouldn't be able to make heads or tails of anything.

That means it's helpful to explain the issues to the judge in the simplest, clearest terms and always tie it back to why it's best for the kid(s). And I think that's where gender stereotypes come in - the PD can use them to sort of push the judge to make sense of the information in THEIR favor. But you can also rebut it by giving the judge an accurate roadmap to understanding all the noise in the context of the true bigger picture. And that's true whether or not it fits into their preconceived notions about how moms and dads are/should be. And hopefully whatever those preconceived notions are, they can work in your favor!

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lilyflower236

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2019, 02:49:52 PM »
Penny Lane — sorry for going a bit off topic but why didn’t the judge allow your dh to add his child to his health insurance? The reason I ask is that I’m getting married soon and planned on adding my son to the family plan I will have with my future husband. My son’s father is ordered to carry his insurance and it’s terrible insurance (it’s actually through stepmom). Super-high deductible that applies to med visits and meds, no co-pays of Dr visits (you jut pay full price till deductible). My fiancé’s insurance is a lot better. I thought we’d just add him on and my son would have a primary and secondary insurance. I didn’t think I’d have to go through the court for that. Since me and my ex are responsible 50/50 for med expenses then this actually benefits him.

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Penny Lane

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2019, 04:54:59 PM »
Lilyflower, the judge didn't say DH couldn't put the kids on his insurance at all, he just wouldn't issue an emergency order for it. He wanted them to jump through all the normal court hoops. But it was midyear so he couldn't just add the kids to his insurance without a change in circumstances (meaning an order). By the time they had done all that it was several months later and BM had already agreed to let the kids go on his insurance, so the judge never actually ruled on the request. In his case I think the sticking point was that he was paying child support that was supposed to go toward insurance, so the child support needed to be lowered so he could afford to pay for insurance. If you're not asking him to pay any more then maybe the process would be much smoother and not require an order. I'd suggest running it by a lawyer though, if you can, just to make sure you're not messing with something in the order.

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lilyflower236

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2019, 05:52:41 PM »
Penny Lane — thank you for the response! That makes sense about child support, getting an order for the change in circumstance, and all that. I will definitely ask my lawyer if there could be any issues before we do it.

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mamato3

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2019, 06:26:46 PM »
I keep hearing that from people. That courts are biased towards mothers - even mothers who may have a PD or some sort of addiction, etc. More willing to overlook things if it's from the mom, not as much when it's the dad. Just curious what everyone's experience is.

In our state, no. 50/50 is assumed generally, and you have to prove why it's not appropriate for your child(ren).

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Rose1

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2019, 07:38:30 PM »
It seems to me that most parents who are going through a "normal" divorce can work out things and avoid court as much as possible. Therefore courts are full of pd disagreements and frankly have no idea how to handle them.

The concept of pd behaviour being bad for kids is non existent. The concept of damage being done to people via courts being used to abuse seems non existent. And from dh's experience the court itself abuses the party with the income at times.

So I agree with starboard song. Avoid or go in hard.  He was supposed to have had a great tough lawyer but she was useless. Could not stand up to a truly ruthless lawyer his ex engaged (not just saying this -he had been pulled in front of the bar for bad conduct and fraud twice that we know of which is why she picked him). The judge allowed some things just to hurry the case along and actually told dh in what we assume was a moment of weakness to change jurisdiction. They were all scared of his ex and her mental illness . The end result was poor for both parties. The court got the money and neither party achieved anything.

I've never seen such a mess.  No consideration was given to dhs ability to provide for his son. It was all about the pd. And the pd used and was allowed to use the court. She even stated that she didn't know what she wanted but as long as it was opposite to dh that was the plan, and they let her. Judge told him it was a legal system not a justice system.

So no wonder the pd is often favoured. I really think they placate the scary person with no regard for consequences and also are very focused on who actually can pay.

Sounds cynical but seems to be what I have seen happen in quite a few cases.


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Latchkey

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2019, 11:26:00 PM »
I keep hearing that from people. That courts are biased towards mothers - even mothers who may have a PD or some sort of addiction, etc. More willing to overlook things if it's from the mom, not as much when it's the dad. Just curious what everyone's experience is.

I think whenever you hear a generalization you need to figure out if it is in relation to your area or if it is just a generalization that you might hear.

There are mothers here (maybe not in this thread) who have been devastated by a legal system that did not favor them. Many here fight Parental Alientation even if the court favored them in custody. Many times it is about who has more money or power or more believable. If your spouse is from the country you are living in or not. See One Mom's Battle, website for someone who fought long and hard on this.

I don't have the answers but agree that the best attorney you can afford and a lot of documentation and work will help your case.
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athene1399

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2019, 09:22:35 AM »
I heard that they used to be biased towards moms but recent studies have shown that the kids benefit by having both parents in their lives so the courts are trying for 50/50 now. However, if extreme circumstances can be proven IMO then things could be different. My SO is the dad and he got custody of his daughter back in 2010. That's also almost a decade ago. But it seems like everyone has a different experience.

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HeadAboveWater

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2019, 12:53:27 PM »
I’ll start with two caveats: I speak from the experience of family and friends, not my own. I only know about the US court system.

The courts are just people, so they reflect our social and cultural biases. We’re still in a social moment where some folks talk about men “babysitting” when they look after their own children, and domestic life and nurturing tasks fall more unevenly to women, even as men participate more often. The tropes of the 80’s and 90’s seemed to be “deadbeat dads,” the father who walked out and never returned, and the divorced dad who wanted little to do with his children after remarrying. Whether these stereotypes actually occurred with any frequency, they did go a long way toward creating biases.

All of that said, the life experiences of judges and other court personnel are diverse. You also never know what they have learned from previous cases that have come into their courtrooms. Hopefully they’re in the positions they’re in because they’re intellectually curious people, so they may also be on top of research (or may be seeing it entered into evidence).

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sonto92

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2019, 08:49:01 PM »
My experience has been a balance of both good and bad.  I had to fight (at a large expense) early on to get 50/50.  In events since then, results have been mixed.  I had a parenting consultant appointed about 2 years ago.  This PC appointed a family therapist, and when my BPDx went in to the initial intake meeting with the therapist, she stormed out twice and decided to call the PC a "f_____ing c__t" during this session (the c word that does go over well).  This discussion came up during a court hearing, brought forward by my BPDx, to get the PC removed.  I believe if it was me, as a man referring to the PC that way, it would not have gone in my favor.  The PC was removed by the judge because it was assumed that the PC had taken things personal against my ex

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Freedup

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2019, 01:32:08 PM »
Not if the mother finally gets so beaten down by not only her own mother, mothering 3 boys, and then a giant move and finally goes eff it and cheats and drinks.  Duh.  There's so much bs one can take before they just lose it.  And give up.  I did.  This was a bad decision.  But I had to be a human being person, that finally stood up. 

I'm paying severely for all of this.  But not as severely as others.  This doesn't help much, when it's a big deal to you.

I got zero, b/c I cheated on him.  And by that I mean....I threw it all at him, didn't come home one night and then when he asked me I said "YUP".  B/c he just played like he was apathetic and stared at his phone for 9 years.....oh well.  Guess his addiction is okay, but not whiskey lol.

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mamato3

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Re: Do you think courts are biased toward mothers?
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2019, 06:05:32 PM »
Penny Lane — sorry for going a bit off topic but why didn’t the judge allow your dh to add his child to his health insurance? The reason I ask is that I’m getting married soon and planned on adding my son to the family plan I will have with my future husband. My son’s father is ordered to carry his insurance and it’s terrible insurance (it’s actually through stepmom). Super-high deductible that applies to med visits and meds, no co-pays of Dr visits (you jut pay full price till deductible). My fiancé’s insurance is a lot better. I thought we’d just add him on and my son would have a primary and secondary insurance. I didn’t think I’d have to go through the court for that. Since me and my ex are responsible 50/50 for med expenses then this actually benefits him.

In this case the 'change in circumstance' would be the marriage, so no court involvement would be necessary.