Gender bias has no place in child custody determinations

Divorce is never an easy process, but it can be more difficult when children are involved. In many cases, one parent or the other may feel at a disadvantage during a child custody dispute for various reasons. For example, many fathers may feel that the court system favors the mother.

However, statistics from a survey released in June, 2011 by the Pew Research Center suggest that any disparity in awards favoring the mother were supported by a mother's increased role in child rearing, not court bias.

In Florida, the law is gender-neutral. In fact, unless it is detrimental to the child, the court typically orders joint custody arrangements, where responsibility for a minor child is shared by both parents. However, the court may order sole custody -- with or without visitation to the other parent -- when it is in the best interests of the child.

Parents who share joint custody play an integral role in the life of their child by sharing responsibility and decision-making, as well as visitation rights. Children often benefit when parents set aside their differences and work together to come up with a fair agreement. In many cases, that appears to be happening: according to a recent count, 91% of child custody arrangements after divorce are decided with no interference from the court system. Only 4% of cases went to trial, and of that portion, only 1.5% completed custody litigation.

It is beneficial to work toward seeking a fair and mutually agreeable custody arrangement. However, in the event a fair agreement cannot be reached, the parent can seek the assistance of an attorney.

Source: Huffington Post, "Dispelling the Myth Of Gender Bias In The Family Court System," Cathy Meyer, July 10, 2012

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