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Do women really have an advantage in child custody cases?

It is not uncommon for many people to assume that when a mother and father face off in a custody battle, the woman has a distinct advantage. In reality, however, the days when the courts assumed that women are better suited as caregivers are long past. In today's family court environment, Florida child custody cases are decided on factors beyond the gender of the parties. Some would argue that there are plenty of cases in which a woman has a distinct disadvantage in a custody fight.

Although things are shifting in our society, it is still common for a woman to have less financial power than her husband or boyfriend. Women usually earn less than their male co-workers, and many women set aside their career path to care for the home and the family's children, and to support the career advancement of her husband or partner. When such a union ends, the woman can find herself cut off from the couple's finances, and with no money of her own to engage in a child custody battle.

This results in a scenario in which one party heads off to court with an aggressive and accomplished attorney, while the other is left with little recourse other than to argue the case on her own. That can have a drastic effect on the outcome of the case, even if the party who does not have legal representation is better suited to gain custody of the child or children. When issues of abuse or neglect are also present, the situation becomes even more dire. One organization estimates that as many as 58,000 children each year are placed into the care of an abusive parent, with no supervision required.

This issue has led some women to stage protests and rally events to raise awareness of the disparity that can occur in family court cases. For those in Florida who are concerned about their ability to pay for a lengthy or contentious child custody battle, it is important to research options early in the process. In some cases, it is possible to ask the court to compel the moneyed spouse to cover a portion of the legal fees for the other party.

Source: northjersey.com, "Women rally outside Passaic court for fairness in child-custody battles", Richard Cowen, May 6, 2016

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