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Gender Discrimination in Battles for Child Custody

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Lucelia Santos

SPC 1017

Gender Discrimination Research Paper

        In colonial America, fathers were seen as primary caregivers and took the responsibility for their children’s moral education and religious views while guiding them into adulthood (Vatsis, 1999). This changed when the separation of home and work was led by industrialization and a modernized economy, which led to the modern believe that mothers have a special capacity for caring for children since the fathers could not be around as much. It is overwhelmingly overlooked how bias the Family Courts can be when it comes down to granting a father custody of a child.

        It is estimated that a whopping 83% of mothers receive custody of their children in divorces (Trovato, 2013). Family Courts consistently believe that a mother, over a father, makes for a better parent to a child because they are generally seen as more tender and docile due to the stereotypes associated with their gender. Women are usually viewed as more truthful, caring, innocent or even happier in comparison to men by our society. Fathers are always presumed capable of abuse before any mother. Men are automatically regarded as rough, strong, short-tempered and inpatient when compared to women. This misconceptions also lead judges to believe some women’s false accusations of domestic violence and child abuse because they are scared of being politically incorrect or frowned upon by society members. Not all women lie about this issues, of course, but some will go to the extent of doing so just to wrongfully keep their ex-husbands from seeing their children out of pure loathe towards the man; not putting into consideration that he might be a good father regardless of their matrimonial or personal problems.

        A mother, when divorced, can marry any other man and his income will never be used to lower child support or be regarded as a mean of stability for the child. Now, when a father divorces and remarries, a second wife’s income is used as a way to show ability to pay child support (Harbour, 1998). It seems hardly fair that laws enforce this imbalanced practices, ideally both the parents and their new spouses’ situations and income should be taken into consideration when it comes down to deciding how much child support should be given out each month. If a mother decides to be cruel she can, by law, take the father to court to pay backed child support owed regardless of the father’s current financial situation. In other words, the father might have been laid off his job or financially unstable, but he will still go to jail if he does not pay the owed child support to the mother who might have a better financial situation. There is many laws like the previous ones, that do no protect the equality of a man when it comes to Family Court; and there is a few, like The Child Custody Act of 1970 in Michigan, that establishes that gender is not a criterion for awarding custody and judges should not be bias (Vatsis, 1999).

        Not only is the equality of a father when it comes to his child’s future and the role he would play in it important for him, but statistics have also proven the importance of having a father figure in a kid’s life. For example, children who grow up fatherless are twice as likely to drop out of school in comparison to children who live with both parents (Parke & Armin, 1999). It is also proven that kids who do not live with their fathers are 11 times more likely to exhibit violent behavior in school (Parke & Armin, 1999). But, the most shocking fact is that 72% of adolescent murderers and 60% of America’s rapists grew up in home without fathers (Parke & Armin, 1999). Discriminating a man in court will not only affect him, it will negatively affect their child’s life.

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