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Women Tend To Make Better Litigants

Do Mothers Always Get Custody?

As a custody and divorce lawyer in Frederick, it never ceases to amaze me that when I give a presentation, a class or a seminar on divorce and custody, it always comes down to questions and answers. I get asked the following questions time after time. Men always ask “doesn’t the mother always get custody?” Women always ask “why do most marriages fail?”

I can tell you as a Frederick Maryland divorce and custody lawyer that everything I comment upon is a clear pattern. These are of course just MY observations, not a study or a survey. That being said, seventeen (17) years as a lawyer handling between sixty five (65) to one hundred (100) divorce and custody cases per year? That’s a significant sample.

You may find my answers are matter of fact and unambiguous. They are. This is what I have seen for what I estimate is four thousand (4,000) days in divorce and custody court. Furthermore, these patterns are consistent with the patterns other Frederick divorce and custody lawyers have seen. What I do not claim to know is; what do the answers really mean?

Don’t women just always get custody?

This is a pattern there can be no honest disagreement upon. When we look at the numbers women get custody a majority of the time. Yes, I said it. The “fathers’ rights” custody lawyers will deride me for uttering for uttering blasphemy. The old fuddy duddy divorce and custody lawyers who started during the salad days of the “tender years doctrine” are shouting “I told you so.” Can an honest lawyer (no jokes please) tell you I am wrong? NO, but let’s examine the light and not the heat of the issue.

The tender years doctrine is dead and it’s not coming back. It was a doctrine espoused by some jurists as a presumption to award custody of a child under age five (5) to the mother. In all honesty, I have not seen, nor in my heart believed, that a custody judge took that position since the year two thousand (2000). Even before the year two thousand (2000), I NEVER saw nor have I ever believed that a Frederick custody judge applied that standard to the prejudice of a father. There have even been times over the years that I believed the pendulum might be swinging in the opposite direction but in the end, I really believe a parent’s gender doesn’t matter.

OK so now I have said that women get custody much more often than men; but that judges don’t favor one gender over the other, what gives? 1st ,

Parents are greater than the sum of their gender

2nd,

just being a good or even a great parent does not make that same person an equally good “litigant.”

As a Frederick Maryland custody and divorce lawyer I have observed that

Parents with time for the children have a distinct advantage

Even in the modern world, there are more stay at home moms than stay at home dads so, that accounts for some of the advantage. Status as a “primary caregiver” does get favorable treatment. Even in the modern world, women more commonly work on a schedule that is conducive to parenting; eg. getting home and picking the kids up before dinner. Men work longer hours outside the home on average and that accounts for a great deal of the disparity between fathers and mothers winning custody.

There are also certain occupations which lend themselves to custody. These are occupations where the parent works only while the children are at school or sleeping. For example, nurses often work from 7p.m. to 7a.m. three days of the week. Teachers are at work while the children are at school and off work when they are not. Those occupations traditionally employ a greater percentage of women than men. Once again accounting for some of the disproportionality.

As a Frederick custody and divorce lawyer, I find women can be better litigants than men in custody cases. They tend to create more witnesses and wider networks such as play dates, volunteering at school etc. In part because of the time advantages stated above. In part because women talk about their children at work more than men. In contrast men’s co-workers and casual friends may not know they have children at all. How can you get a co-worker to testify on your behalf at a custody hearing, if he/she does not know you have kids?

Women tend to keep better ”custody type” records than men.

In particular calendars showing when the other parent was late, when the child(ren) were sick, what clothing did or did not come home with the kids, when the homework was or wasn’t done etc. Calendars are so important, that I give every new Custody Place client , father or mother, a pocket daytimer for the express purpose of keeping child centered daily notes. I get them back filled in by more women than men.

Is there something about women that makes them keep such journals more often than men? Maybe keeping diaries as little girls? I claim no answer. As a Frederick divorce and custody lawyer, I see that the party with the most time for the children and who gives the better presentation is the one who gets primary custody. To men I say, forewarned is forearmed.
Timothy Conlon, Esq.  The Custody Place.

The Custody Place

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