Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Gender Bias in Child Custody

Gender stereotypes have played a significant influence on child custody decisions throughout history. Despite current gender-neutral legislation, male advocacy organizations allege that custody rulings continue to favor mothers. The media and women’s rights advocates argue that child custody proceedings unfairly target mothers. Mothers were regularly granted sole custody throughout the twentieth century due to the widespread belief in women’s “natural superiority” in child care (Ryznar, 2016). Socially progressive jurisdictions changed their child custody rules to prioritize “the kid’s best interests” in light of the growing issue of conventional gender roles. Is it true that the adoption of gender-neutral legislation has led to more equal custody distributions in reality? Not immediately, at least, based on some data. When it comes to divorce disputes involving minor children, 86.3 percent of the time, mothers are given custody in Brazil and the United States, respectively (Ryznar, 2016). A wide range of factors might cause this disparity: Before the breakup, the bulk of caregiving responsibilities was likely performed by moms. According to a recent poll, women still do more housework and childcare responsibilities than males, even in houses where spouses receive a salary. Second, males are more likely than women to be victims of domestic violence or misuse of substances (Garvin, 2016). When it comes to custody battles and non-litigation judgments, males are more likely to give up their parental rights than moms.

The first article that examined the issue of gender bias in child custody was done by Warshak (2005). The research represented three nations: Argentina, Brazil, and the United States of America. In a pilot study, the researchers employed a sample of 114 participants drawn from two custody cases. After giving their informed permission, the participants watched two videos depicting a divorcing couple arguing over who gets custody of the kids. Vignettes were designed such that one parent was a little cozier than the other to support uneven custody arrangements.

Research question

Is there a lot of gender bias when it comes to child custody cases?

Tests done

The study was done by considering three cases. Participants were asked to compare custody awards in two instances to identical awards with the parents’ names swapped. Even if we were to give two different versions of the same instance (such as Case 1) in succession, participants would be exposed to demand features since our experimental comparison would be made evident. We matched a different case with an extra degree of a better parent in each experiment. One participant saw an issue with a better mother and another with a better father, but they never saw the identical situation again. Using the signed-rank test, we evaluated the data.


A signed-rank test against the scale’s midpoint (z = 10.11, p< .001) indicated that the majority of participants (M = 5.24, SD = 1.02) supported joint custody in the abstract. The research found evidence of a preference for primary control for the mother, which was connected to gender stereotypes. Custody awards showed an imbalance between excellent moms and good dads across matched pairs of child custody cases in Study 1, which examined three distinct cultures and languages. According to Study 2, attributions of affection did not influence custody awards. As a result, rewards to excellent mothers were predicted by warm attributions, but not by warm attributions to good dads. According to the findings of Study 3, feminine nouns are often associated with warmth-related characteristics, which influence custody decisions as well. As a consequence of these findings, it may be concluded that gender and warmth stereotypes, which have been studied explicitly (Study 2) and implicitly (Study 3), have a role in the asymmetry of child custody awards that have been highlighted in the literature (Study 1).

Previous research on the folk psychology of custodial choices stresses the broad support for joint custody, which may conflict with our focus on mother preference. However, a deeper look at the findings of Braver and colleagues indicates that their data also show a maternal preference:

For example, “among those who did not pick the ‘equal living’ choice, much more (28 percent) supported mother main custody than paternal (3 percent), a big and significant difference, t(35) = -3.0, p =.01” in one of their research. According to Braver et al., joint custody was the most preferred solution in all three surveys.

The second article was done by Dotterweich & McKinney (2005). This research used an experimental design for its investigation. Content analysis and in-depth interviews were the primary sources of information. We were able to collect data in a convenient and purposeful way. According to the research, 32 cases from six courts in the United States were examined utilizing a content analysis plan. Researchers looked at the facts, law, and rationale behind decisions to understand the obiter dictum. Case numbers are often used to identify individual legal proceedings. The information included in the instances was deemed personal for this investigation. The examples were assessed based on assumptions about gender and general judgments of the most acceptable internet principles.

Research question

To what extent does the children’s court consider gender when making custody decisions?

Tests done

A descriptive study was conducted. We compared the significant outcomes, such as the satisfaction levels of both genders, to all static factors, including the gender given custody in the previous three years, visiting rights, and children’s ages. Theoretically, these criteria might help determine who gets custody of a kid. Pearson’s chi-squared test was used to examine the differences in dichotomous outcomes. According to the Shapiro–Wilk test, the continuous variable was normal. Growth curve mixture models were estimated using Mplus Version 8 for all other studies.


The hypothesis has an AUC of 0.773, according to the graph. Additionally, two pathways were shown to be the most favorable to ensuring gender equality in custody awards. Finally, this model’s AUC was 0.788, which included men, lower-income, and the age of children as a variable. The data showed that women were given legal custody of the children majority of the time, while males were granted access to visitation privileges. The women were awarded custody of the children because they were young enough to require the mother’s control and nurturing, which they could only obtain from her. On the other hand, it could be shown that the mother had abused or mistreated the children, was sexually promiscuous, intoxicated, or otherwise unable to care for them, then the father would be granted possession. Courts are likely to conduct interviews with children above 10 to gather their thoughts and establish what they want. According to new research, when both parents are granted shared legal custody of their children, the courts issue these directives. According to the study results, males would be granted access or visitation privileges to their children. If the court determines that the father poses a threat to the children, supervised access may be granted. Women’s rights were provided to them in cases when the father had abused them while the relationship was still active, but in most cases, they would use that evidence to deny the father access to his children.

Synthesis and article comparison

For a long time, the problem of gender prejudice in child custody disputes has been studied. There has been a perception that men are overlooked when it comes to child custody. The truth of gender prejudice can only be fully grasped after being introduced to the reality of gender bias regarding child custody issues, though. Looking at our local family court demographics is an excellent place to begin this investigation. In most cases, seven out of 10 are female. This comprises court clerks, the judge, the judge’s staff members, hearing officers, family court clinic personnel, court monitors, and bailiffs. We must first understand how gender roles are played out in a family and what occurs when a custody battle upsets this dynamic to investigate gender prejudice in the court.

It is not always this way for the parents involved in a custody fight. Every parent intends to keep their family together for the benefit of all its members at some point in time. It’s a good idea to think about how this family model functions at its finest. A variety of causes has shaped gender roles. As parents, moms and dads have primarily conform to gender standards for various reasons, both social and institutional. Many people also believe that males are expected to be the breadwinners of the family, while women are expected to be the caretakers due to long-standing gender norms. The maternal characteristic that moms seem to be wired for causes them to gravitate into administrative roles for their children naturally. Mothers and dads are often on the same page when taking care of small children, locating daycare, negotiating with numerous service providers, finishing school registration papers, or transporting the children to the doctor’s visit. Fathers in intact families are often pleased to let their partners take care of such details since they know they don’t have to worry about them because they have faith in their relationship. This also allows men to devote more time to the attributes they are naturally predisposed to, such as providers. Like any other part of fatherhood, the transition into the provider position is a natural progression for fathers. Both papers made their points about this problem quite clear. Both studies included a substantial amount of data about the variables under consideration. Both data collection and analysis processes were well detailed throughout the presentation. This has a significant impact on the accuracy of the results. It’s not ideal that both studies used such a tiny sample and extrapolated their findings to the whole population. In the research, there were no references to ethics. More research should be encouraged, as long as it adheres to generally recognized scientific norms of inquiry.


Gender stereotypes have played a significant influence on child custody decisions throughout history. Despite current gender-neutral legislation, male advocacy organizations allege that custody rulings continue to favor mothers. The media and women’s rights advocates argue that child custody proceedings unfairly target mothers. Confusing and contradictory impressions may be traced back to various factors, including a lack of trustworthy neutral research, anecdotal incidents that the media have popularized, and a biasness among cases that are determined in court. There is no evidence to support gender stereotypes that place women as the significant caregivers, and the primary parent assumption has been deemed a considerable error. Custody reformation should prioritize the children’s needs rather than those of adults.


Dotterweich, D., & McKiney, M. (2005). National Attitudes Regarding Gender Bias in Child Custody Cases. Family Court Review38(2), 208–223.

GARVIN, Z. (2016). The Unintended Consequences of Rebuttable Presumptions to Determine Child Custody in Domestic Violence Cases. Family Law Quarterly50(1), 173–192. Retrieved from

Ryznar, M. (2016). The Empirics of Child Custody. Cleveland State Law Review65, 211.

Warshak, R. A. (2005). Gender Bias in Child Custody Decisions. Family Court Review34(3), 396–409.


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics