Could child custody arrangements be dictated by prejudice?

Utah State family law guidelines are designed to account for the best interests of children and families. As a result, family law judges are charged with making important decisions regarding child custody and visitation arrangements in the event that parents cannot agree on such issues. And while the court is always supposed to address cases objectively, some are raising concerns that the system itself is acting on unfounded biases, wrongfully siding with mothers the majority of the time.

Many studies complement the belief that children thrive when they have reliable access to both their parents following a divorce. In fact, children’s features can be positively impacted by the presence of parents that are equally engaged in their lives. Many critics of current family law policies applied throughout the country would argue, however, that the law is ignoring the best interests of the child in many cases.

Figures in one state illustrate how many child custody cases are handled around the country. It was recently estimated that sole custody of children was awarded to their mothers approximately 60 percent of the time, while joint custody was only awarded less than 30 percent of the time. Proponents of shared custody note that such numbers suggest that family law judges often show bias toward mothers.

Critics of current family law guidelines also argue that responsible, engaged fathers are actually being forced out of the lives of their children by such prejudicial treatment against men. They point to the fact that primary custody was awarded to mothers more than 70 percent of the time within the last decade. Equal parenting time was only established a little more than 12 percent of the time, and fathers were granted primary custody and in only approximately 13 percent of cases.

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