Confronting Gender Bias in Child Custody Arrangements

Despite recent improvements, gender bias can still be an issue in child custody arrangements. This is what you should know–and what you can do about it.

Going through a divorce is hard enough without children involved. If you are trying to figure out who gets primary custody in a divorce, you may experience gender bias during your trial.

What is gender bias, and how can it affect child custody arrangements?

If you are seeking primary or exclusive custody of your child, then there are a few key aspects to keep in mind.

Here’s what you need to know about gender bias and child custody in Texas.

Child custody arrangement - confronting gender bias

The History of Gender Stereotypes in Child Custody

Back in the day, many courts strived to give equal parental rights to both parents in order to keep the family unit together. However, as time went on, more and more courts began to favor the mother in court due to gender bias. Mothers were considered to be better caretakers and were therefore given more rights.

A law, known as the “tender years doctrine“, existed to benefit the mother in court. This law stated that young children had a natural attachment to their mother and that child and mother should be apart. This made it nearly impossible for the father to have a say in child custody.

While this law no longer exists, there are still incidences of gender bias and child custody today. Whether this is due to society’s own placement of women as housekeepers and child-rearers or the bias of particular judges, mothers seem to benefit the most from child custody cases.

How Can Gender Stereotypes Impact Court Decisions?

There are a few different ways that gender bias could impact court decisions. Women are awarded child custody about 90% of the time; this may also involve higher child custody payments on the father’s part.

Fortunately, it is possible to contest a court case after the jury has made a final verdict. Around 60% of the time, the father will be awarded child custody in these cases.

While gender bias may not be as common in child custody arrangements as it once was, it can still happen. Pay close attention to your judge’s behavior, and don’t be afraid to contest your case if you are not permitted access to your child.

Factors to Be Considered in Child Custody Arrangements

In order to get the best possible outcome from your court case, you should pay close attention to factors your judge will be considering. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Income of both parents
  • Overall ability to care for the child/children
  • Parental involvement
  • Specific needs of the child
  • Stable living arrangements and finances

While money is certainly considered highly when deciding primary care, the more important aspect is how well you can care for your child. This depends on your involvement in the child’s life; how you handle schooling, visits to the doctor, extracurricular activities, and other important events in your child’s life will be taken into account.

The time you are able to spend bonding with your child will also become an important factor in custody decisions. The judge will need to be sure that you have the time to feed and care for your child. Should your child have any special needs, such as a learning or developmental disorder, you’ll also need to prove yourself capable of properly caring for your child’s specific needs.

Depending on the age of your child, their wants may also fall into consideration. Should the child prefer to stay with one parent over the other, the judge may award primary custody to that particular parent. For child custody in Texas, any child that is 12 years old or older has a say in which parent they stay with.

Finally, your personal habits will have some sway in who gets custody. Any addictions, such as alcohol or drug addictions, will be taken into consideration. Evidence of child neglect or abuse will also be brought to light at this time for the benefit of the child.

Your Custody Rights as a Parent

As a father, you may worry that the mother of your child will get automatic custody rights to your child. However, this is not the case. You have a right to be rewarded partial or primary custody of your child should you wish.

Should you prove that you are fully capable of caring for your child, you have every right to have custody. You also have the right to a say in your child’s education and medical care if you earn at least partial custody. Make sure you educate yourself on your parental rights in Texas before getting into a custody battle.

How to Plan Against Gender Bias in Court

While most courts are doing their best to prevent gender bias during custody cases, it cannot always be avoided. However, there are a few ways that you can improve your appearance as a parent in court.

First, make sure that you have a timesharing schedule put in place before your appointed court meeting. Should you leave without an agreed-upon schedule put in place, there is no guarantee that you will be allowed time with your kids when you return. That means you will not be able to bond with your children in the same way that the mother would.

In a court of law, this can also work against you. It is easy for a judge to see this as the mother doing all of the childcare work while you are doing other things unrelated to your children; at this point, even setting a timesharing schedule will be next to impossible. The mother may insist upon being the sole caretaker of the children.

Even if the two of you are just struggling, you should set up a timesharing schedule. That way, if you do decide to separate, you will still have regular access to your children.

It’s also crucial that you do not leave the home for extended periods of time without reason. While you may need some time to handle your emotions during a time as stressful as a divorce, holding up your hands and walking away from your children can damage your appearance in court.

Instead, stick closely to your timesharing agreement in order to bond with your children. Otherwise, you may give off the appearance of an absentee father who doesn’t want to be around his family.

Why You Should Hire a Family Law Attorney

You may think that your custody case will be simple if you and your ex get along well. However, you should always consider hiring a family law attorney to help with your child custody in Texas. No matter how well prepared you believe you are, a lawyer can help your case tremendously.

To start, a family lawyer can help you gather evidence supporting your abilities to care for your children. Naturally, you should gather any evidence you already have, such as prior restraining orders or police records, that your lawyer should be aware of. That way, they can help you document and record future evidence.

A family lawyer in Texas can also help you with other forms of documentation. From gathering information about your child’s medical history to information about your child’s education, this information can help you determine what child support you may need to pay or how much money you need to make to support your child on your own.

A lawyer can also help maintain civility between both parents. This is particularly helpful if one or both parties are aggressive towards each other. Having someone keep the peace is helpful in a situation as important as a custody agreement.

Finally, a family law attorney can help answer any questions you may have about the entire child custody arrangement process to put your own mind at ease. Going through a divorce is stressful, and you shouldn’t have to go through the entire process alone. If you are struggling to work your way through the custody case, then you should hire a lawyer right away for help.

Get the Best Child Custody Agreement Possible

Going through with a child custody case is scary, and gender bias can make it seem like you don’t have a hope of getting awarded custody of your child. With these tips in mind, you can get the most from your child custody arrangements without stress. Remember to contact a family law attorney if you have any questions about the custody arrangement process.

Are you struggling through a difficult divorce and don’t know where to turn?

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