Men’s Activists Say Divorce Courts Are Biased Against Fathers. They’re wrong? No, Hanna Rosin. They’re right. Let’s do the math.
Here’s another laughable piece from Hanna Rosin – surely you remember her – the lady sitting in her comfortable home designed, built, sourced, maintained, heated and powered by men – wondering if men have become obsolete.
I don’t know why I even bother with this delusional witch, but let’s look at her new article about how father’s totally don’t get fucked in family courts even though mothers get equal or superior custody arrangements 91.1% of the time. When you’re looking at percentages in the 90 range, you know you’re dealing with equality. #feministequality. Lean In, ladies! How is it that you are allowing those sneaky bastard men to prevent you from getting equal or better custody arrangements 100% of the time?
Last week the actor Jason Patric went to court to “fight ’til I’m dead,” as he put it, to see his 4-year-old son. Patric and his girlfriend conceived the child through in vitro fertilization, and a judge earlier denied Patric any paternal rights. Since then, Patric has become a hero to frustrated fathers everywhere who are alienated from their ex-wives and girlfriends. Patric is part of a movement of vigilante fathers who challenge the assumption that mothers should have any more rights than they do. Skier Bode Miller famously challenged a girlfriend’s right to move to New York after she got pregnant with his child, and earlier this year a group of Utah fathers sued the state over a law allowing mothers to give up their babies for adoption without their consent. The courts, argued one of the Utah plaintiffs, treat men “like they’re scum—like they don’t have rights at all as far as having a relationship with their children.”
A few comments here. First of all, vigilante means a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate.
Secondly, the fact that Patric didn’t literally fuck his son’s mother, and used IVF instead has little bearing beyond legal loopholing in this particular case. Patric is not only the child’s biological father, he was present in his son’s life from birth up until the courts decided that his failure to actually put his penis in his child’s mother and ejaculate to cause her pregnancy invalidates his right to be his child’s father. Patric presented plenty of evidence to demonstrate his involvement in his little boy’s life. His son calls him “Dada”. Case fucking closed, in my opinion.
The opposite problem? Problem? Fathers wanting to be in their children’s lives in a meaningful way is a fucking problem? So basically, Hanna, children are the personal property of women and any attempt by fathers to define their own relationships is a problem needing to be addressed?
A growing fathers’ rights movement is aggressively challenging what it sees as the courts’ assumption that the mother is the only real parent. Men’s rights activists air their grievances about unfair child custody laws on sites such as A Voice for Men and on subreddits like Men’s Rights and The Red Pill. Last year, Ken Cuccinelli was tied to a men’s rights group advocating for divorced fathers. “Men are angry at losing their kids in the divorce court and taking their dream of raising them and reducing it to a child support payment and every other weekend,” writes one men’s rights blogger quoted in Michael Kimmel’s 2013 book Angry White Men. And that view is shared by the broader public. One recent study showed that people are generally in favor of joint custody, but they believe that divorce courts are seriously slanted toward mothers.
It’s so cute how hoi polloi think they understand the world they live in. Darling little plebes who actually believe they are capable of parsing and comprehending the reality around them. Oh broader public, you’re so adorable. Shush now and let the smart ladies tell you how things really are.
But is this actually true? “There’s a real perception—even women share it—that courts are unfair to fathers,” says Ira Ellman, a custody expert at Arizona State University. But in fact the great revolution in family court over the past 40 years or so has been the movement away from the presumption that mothers should be the main, or even sole, caretakers for their children. Individual cases like Patric’s may raise novel legal issues, but on the whole, courts are fair to men, particularly men who can afford a decent lawyer.
Hold up, now. Men who can afford a decent lawyer is not most men. And the very fact that a good lawyer is needed strongly implies the laws are anything but fair. If they were fair, and applied with true equality and generosity, why would a fancy lawyer be needed? And how is it that women can manage to face the courts over custody matters and not need a good lawyer?
Perhaps because the courts are biased in the women’s favor? Just think for one goddamn second about what you are saying, Hanna. Black defendants get treated very fairly by the courts if they can afford a good lawyer. Therefore systemic discrimination against blacks in the courts doesn’t exist?
Cases like Patric’s and Miller’s, which involve fathers who never married the mothers, are relatively new to the courts, but divorce courts have a long history of trying to keep up with changing gender dynamics. In the 1970s, family courts began to move away from assuming a model of breadwinner husband and dependent wife. Instead, courts assumed interdependence, meaning that husband and wife shared assets and domestic duties. Pretty rapidly, Naomi Cahn and June Carbone explain in their new book, Marriage Markets: How Inequality Is Remaking the American Family, the rules became more “gender neutral.” As the image of an abandoned, innocent wife faded, alimony declined. The maternal presumption that mothers should automatically get custody of children in the “tender years”—meaning younger than 7—also faded. And the vast majority of states moved toward an assumption of joint custody. In 2000, for example, a new law in Wisconsin directed courts to maximize the time children spent with both parents.
The “rules” may be more gender neutral, but nice dodge, Hanna. We are not talking about the “rules”. We are talking about how they are applied. Rules mean jack shit if they are not actually being enforced.
Men’s rights activists complain that despite the legal changes, mother preference still lingers, and studies have shown that through the 1980s sole mother custody still prevailed. But more recently judges have been catching up to the law.
According to one of the most thorough surveys of child custody outcomes, which looked at Wisconsin between 1996 and 2007, the percentage of divorce cases in which the mother got sole custody dropped from 60.4 to 45.7 percent while the percentage of equal shared custody cases, in just that decade, doubled from 15.8 to 30.5. And a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers shows a rapid increase in mothers paying child support.
Berkeley law professor Mary Ann Mason tracked the changing priorities of divorce courts over three decades. The biggest recent change, she writes, is the courts’ preference for the “friendly parent,” meaning the one who can get along with the other parent. Mothers who get in the way of a father’s involvement can in fact be penalized by the courts. In their book, Cahn and Carbone tell the story of the Renauds, a divorcing Vermont couple whose case was resolved in 2004. Before the divorce, the couple shared child care. The mother took Fridays off to be with the children, and the father took them to and from day care and was an involved dad. The marriage ended when the father told the mother that he was having an affair with a colleague. In another era, the mother would have gotten sole custody of the children and alimony, but not much child support. Now, “the mother’s ability to retain custody depends on her willingness to support the father’s involvement,” Cahn and Carbone write. In this case, the mother accused the father of abuse and neglect. When the investigators could not confirm the charges, the court awarded the father 50 percent custody and made the mother’s custody contingent on her working to repair the relationship with the father.
That’s nice, Hanna. You cherry picked a single court case in which the mother’s custody is contingent on her being a decent fucking human being to her children’s father. Go back to the very beginning and look at Jason Patric again. His child’s mother, supported by courts that give not one single fuck about either the father or the child, is denying him any access to his son at all. Do you have any idea how much that vindictive shrew is hurting her own child? Where does he think Daddy went? Is Daddy dead? Why can’t I see my Daddy anymore.
The real inequality in family courts these days is not based on gender, but on income. Wealthy men have successfully fought against proposed reforms that would have forced them to pay more child support. With elite, college educated men, “it’s outrageous how little they can end up paying in child support in some cases,” says Ellman, the Arizona State professor. But poor men are in a different predicament. Welfare reform in the 1990s included an effort to track down fathers who weren’t paying child support. As the economy sank, those fathers fell behind on their payments and often wound up in jail or permanent debt, as Elaine Sorensen of the Urban Institute has documented.
How dare those wealthy men refuse to shell out to their gold-digging ex-wives? The bastards! Of course, if the wives were truly concerned about the welfare of their children, wanting to provide them with all the resources their wealthy father offers, they would have stayed married.
Poor men put in jail because they were dumb enough to become unemployed? Yeah, let’s throw them in jail and make them beholden to the women who gave birth to their children for the rest of their natural lives. Make sure those sorry bastards turn every penny over to the children mother.
A father who never married the mother of his child has a much shakier legal status. Petitioning the courts for paternal rights as a father who had a child out of wedlock is complicated to do and much less likely to be successful. A legal system that has evolved to recognize equal, interdependent parents doesn’t really apply. As Cahn and Carbone have written, in this social class the women are generally better off and choose not to marry the fathers, precisely because they want to avoid future legal disputes over children. If that father is Jason Patric or Bode Miller, he can probably afford a lawyer and get sympathetic publicity. But if he’s not, the best a poor father can hope for if he wants to impact his child is to be a steady paycheck.
So, the moral of the whole story is that courts are totally fair to men as long as they are rich and married. Unmarried men have virtually no chance of obtaining custody of their own children and women would be wise to never get married because …duh…then no man will ever be ever take her personal property children.