Gender Bias in Child Custody: Fiction or Fact?

Gender Bias

Gender BiasLooking at the statistics, it’s clear that mothers are more likely to get primary residential custody than fathers in custody decisions. A 2011 statistics revealed that mothers get custody 68-88% of the time, while fathers only get an 8-14% chance.

Some say this is due to the so-called gender bias in child custody. Courts often favor the mothers more than the fathers to rear children because of pre-conceived stereotypes. While this notion sounds believable, is there any truth to it?

Gender Bias and its Effects

To examine this phenomenon, it’s important to look at two concepts: the gender bias itself and the perception of it. Gender bias could be a cause or effect. It becomes a cause when it affects custody decisions, and it becomes an effect when it fuels stereotypes, which will continue to qualify the gender bias.

The gender stereotype that women are naturally the better parents doesn’t only impose unfair expectations on mothers but ultimately undermines the capability of fathers to look after their child.

Consequently, gender bias becomes a stereotype in itself. Since people believe that it exists, the direct assumption is that any decision made in favor of the mother is just a result of gender bias.

The Truth

When it’s time to make a decision, says the “child’s best interest” is a matter that the court will always take into account, which makes gender bias a myth.

There are statistical data that suggest mothers get child custody because they are more able to provide for the child’s best interest, meaning they have more physical and emotional involvement with the child. One defining conclusion is that most fathers have less involvement in their children’s care during and after the marriage.

Some marriage educators say gender bias is an argument commonly used by fathers who fail to grasp the meaning and value of fighting for more time with their child during the divorce process.

The use of gender bias as an argument in custody cases will not only smear the mother’s reputation as a rearing parent, but also will most likely interfere with the child’s best interest.

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