Gender Bias in Family Court Essay
Who says that just because a mother gave birth to her child she should have more say in decisions than the father through family court? In most cases, when a father and mother go into family court for whatever reason it is, the mother is favored due to the stereotype that they can provide a better life for their children. From experience, I know that a father is just as “nurturing” as a mother. A father may not be able to play mom, but he has just as much capability to take care of his children just as much as a mother.
Judges in family court should pay more attention to whether or not they’re being more lenient to the mother than the father. According to Aaron Larson, previous to the twentieth century, children were often treated as property of the father by common law jurisdictions. This means, if a child’s mother and father were to get a divorce, the child would be handed over to the father’s custody rather than the mothers. In the 1960’s, women put on a fight to pass laws that would protect them from domestic violence. After a timely effort, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment laws were passed.
Women now use these laws to their advantage to make men look like unfit parents and completely remove their children’s fathers from their lives. (Pearl Harbour) In the 1970’s, a number of divorced men organized a group commonly known as the Fathers’ Rights Group because of fathers not being treated equally in child custody litigation. (Pam Chamberlain) Stated by the US Census Bureau, in the year 2002, around 13. 4 million parents had custody of 21. 5 million children under the age of 21 year and in a separate living space as the other parent.
Additionally, the Census declared that around 84. 4 percent of custodial parents were mothers and 15. 6 percent were fathers. That means five of every six custodial parents were mothers. These proportions have been statistically unchanged since 1994. Fathers are being treated as if their worth is just the same as a check-writer. If a father can wake up at the crack of dawn every morning to make money in order to provide food on the table for his kids, they should not be seen by the court as less nurturing than a mother who sits at home enjoying the fruits of the labor.
Mike Espinoza, a divorced father from the state of Arizona, only was able to see his children every other weekend. Having to cram their quality time into two short days, he became furious and was determined to change it. He couldn’t care less about the rights of mothers nor fathers. His main concern was the effect that it has on the children being put in the middle of a predicament they didn’t ask to be in. After three years of fighting, Espinoza successfully pushed a law to be passed in Arizona that will go into effect starting January.
This law encourages courts to put more consideration into “maximizing” parents’ time with his/her children. (Alia Beard Rau) Just like we all have freedom of press, freedom of speech, and freedom of search and seizure, we all have the freedom to parenthood. We have a constitutional protection for our freedom to nurture our children as we please without government involvement. In the family law setting, when the child’s safety is endangered, that’s when the “best interest” standard is introduced.
The major issue in my opinion is that the constitutional right for equal protection of the law is being violated. The “best interest of the child” standard completely destroys the life of one parent from the belief that it is “better” for the child. There is no one set definition to what “better” is in the first place. The belief that anyone? child, parent, judge, etc.? can determine what is “in the best interest of the child” is pure ignorant. (Michael Newdow) An adolescent whose parents are dealing with a rough divorce shouldn’t have to go through such torture.
It cannot possibly get any worse than knowing that the bond they have with the most important people in their life is deteriorating. No child asks for such a horrible situation. However, the jury likes to gloss over their definite harms. Having to spend heavy amounts of hard earned money and horribly slaughtering a parent’s life are highly painful injuries. I am not trying to stress that no mother should have custody of their child. It’s apparent that not every father is fit enough for the role. However, until evidence is shown that presents one parent being fit than the other, ach parent should be given equal rights. All parents, with no findings of any danger, should each hold fifty percent of the child’s custody. Judges shouldn’t be gender bias due to the stupidity of stereotypes. Both mother and father committed the act of conceiving a child; it should be their right to have an equal part in their lives. In conclusion to all the statistics and every law, custody all comes down to the child. In the end, nobody ever questions the child’s preferences in the situation. Parents become so busy dealing with the custody battle they lose focus on who they are fighting for in the first place.
From experience, I know how it feels not to have a father around. Personally, it hurts like nothing I have ever felt in my entire life. Knowing this feeling, in my opinion, I think that courts should look past the gender and straight at the offspring. If “best interest” is what is being aimed for, ask the child their wishes on who they want to have custody and why. If sticking a child with a parent that only wanted custody for the child support, how is that in the “best interest” of the child? There is way more to this battle than meets the eye.