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Fathers and Mothers: Child Custody Myths

Posted on in Child Custody and Visitation

Myths about child custody and child support for dadsIt has been a commonly repeated idea for decades that women generally receive custody of children more frequently than men do. There are several reasons why this has been historically true. However, societal perceptions and state laws are both changing, and in most cases, these changes are to the benefit of the children. There is a significant amount of misinformation that persists when discussing the rights of fathers, and it is important to understand why some particularly pervasive myths are just that—myths.

Myth: Fathers Almost Never Get Custody

It depends on the applicable definition of “never,” but generally, this is untrue. The most recent available Census statistics show that fathers represent around one in five custodial parents—an improvement over the 16 percent of custodial parents reported in 1994. However, studies indicate that dads simply do not ask for custody as often as mothers do, and courts generally do not award what is not asked for in that regard.

A Massachusetts study examined 2,100 fathers who asked for custody and pushed aggressively to win it. Of those 2,100, 92 percent either received full or joint custody, with mothers receiving full custody only 7 percent of the time. Another study where 8 percent of fathers asked for custody showed that of that 8 percent, 79 percent received either sole or joint custody (in other words, approximately 6.3 percent of all fathers in the study). 

Of course, this leads to the obvious question: Why do so few men attempt to gain custody? While there are multiple factors at play, one to note is that since many men still believe that the court system is inherently prejudiced in favor of the mother, they do not try to seek sole or joint custody, believing it to be a waste of time and money. This contributes to any lingering biases or claims that men care less about their children, which is, in fact, mostly untrue.

Myth: Child Support Calculations Are Unfair to Men

As stated, this is untrue, though there is some evidence to show that the formulas used in some states may be unfair to the non-custodial parent in general. In some states, child support payments are calculated based on the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of children being supported. This formula purports to be objective, but it has come under fire from parents and legal professionals alike, who allege that it is both outdated and fails to take factors into account that might materially affect decisions. 

For example, such calculations often do not take into account parents who split custody (that is, have basically equal parenting time). The statutory amount of child support is the official suggestion, but given that parenting time is equal, this seems inappropriate in many respects. Another issue brought up by critics of these types of guidelines is that support is calculated using only the non-custodial parent’s income, without taking the income of the custodial parent into question. If the custodial parent makes substantially more than the non-custodial parent, it may be inequitable in many situations to require the non-custodial parent to make large child support payments. To address this, many states have revamped the formulas used to calculate child support, ensuring that both parents’ incomes are taken into consideration.

A Skilled Attorney Can Help

Regardless of gender, your chances to obtain a favorable outcome in your divorce proceedings increase if you have competent representation. Contact an experienced divorce attorney who will work with you throughout the process, ensuring that you always have information and understanding about how your case is progressing. Don’t wait. Your rights regarding your children may depend on it.

Sources:

https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-269.pdf

https://amptoons.com/blog/files/Massachusetts_Gender_Bias_Study.htm

https://www.jaacap.org/article/S0002-7138(09)60056-X/pdf

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