Myth — Family courts are biased against fathers in custody disputes.
Fact: “Despite the powerful stereotypes working against fathers, they are significantly more successful than is commonly believed. The Massachusetts [gender bias] task force, for example, reported that fathers receive primary or joint custody in more than 70 percent of contested cases.”
Schafran, Lynn Hecht, “Gender Bias in Family Courts,” American Bar Association Family Advocate, Vol. 17, No. 1, p. 26
Ruth I. Abrams & John M. Greaney, Report of the Gender Bias Study of the Supreme Judicial Court [of Massachusetts] 62-63 (1983), also citing similar finding from California and other parts of the nation.
Fact: “The various gender bias commissions found that at the trial court level in contested custody cases, fathers won more than half the time. This is especially significant in light of the fact that not only do fathers win more often in court when they take these cases to trial, but also that an overwhelmingly higher percentage of fathers gain primary custody — by any means — than were ever the primary caregiver of their children during marriage. Statistically, this dashes the argument that ‘only the strongest cases are taken to trial,’ and in fact indicates an extraordinary bias against mothers and the value of mothering and mothers’ work.”
liznote re the more than 40 state gender bias task force reports. Available from the National Judicial Education Program, 9 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013.
And why add the piece about “divorced and separated men are 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide than married men”? Oh, because the part that would typically follow a statement like that is, “So let’s support the natural/biological family,” or “You see, the court system is killing fathers.”
Men with a [perceived] loss of control are 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide, murder-suicide, and familicide than men who feel that they are in control.
There is no “notion” that divorced/estranged fathers don’t want/need continuing contact with their children. The notion is that if you renege on your familial responsibilities (to be with your friends, or new girlfriend, leaving your children behind) you have shown that your children are not a priority. This is not meant to imply that in order to have a relationship with your children, you must be exclusive with the mother. What it means is that you establish your priorities by your actions.
Myth — Increasing fathers’ visitation time and custody rights makes them more amenable to paying child support.
Fact: “As researchers began to stop collecting their data mainly from fathers and began to explore the relationship between visiting and paying child support in longitudinal studies, the theory that increased visitation would result in increased child support compliance began to wane. In 1993, the Office of Economic Research, U.S. Bureau of Labor undertook a study based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). The NLSY is a survey of more than 12,000 men and women who are interviewed annually since 1979. The authors of this study found contrary to previous studies, increases in visitation have no effect on changes in child support.”
THE LINK BETWEEN VISITATION AND SUPPORT COMPLIANCE, Laura Wish Morgan with Chuck Shively of the Department of Social & Health Services, Washington State. http://childsupportguidelines.com/articles/art200012.html
In reality, some of this Responsible Fatherhood money is being used to target fathers for a custody changing scheme under the guise of access and visitation. Attorneys are provided to fathers so that they can seek custody of their children. The division of Child Support states that MORE money has been collected under this system when in fact child support arrears are being waived, and child support awards are being reduced, or eliminated.
Strengthen Fatherhood and Families: Barack Obama has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts. President Obama will sign this bill into law and continue to implement innovative measures to strengthen families.