Divorce has always been an uphill fight for men. The deck is just stacked against them. Both our societal norms and judicial attitudes make getting a fair break difficult for men in the divorce process.
The current Washington State laws controlling divorce strive to be “Gender Neutral”. The legislature has attempted to remove all gender favoring laws from the books. Old gender bias laws have been rewritten to remove prejudice for or against both men and women. The laws are not the problem. It is the implementation of the law that is still the problem. Laws do not exist in a vacuum. Laws are interpreted and enforced by Judges. Judges bring their experience, attitudes, and prejudices into the courtroom.
There is a strong movement in America toward gender equality, but it has not yet been achieved.
The historical bias against women in the work place for equal opportunity and equal pay, actually gives women an advantage in divorce.
The Court is there to attempt to fairly decide the issues of: child custody; visitation; support; alimony (spousal support); and division of the family property and debts. Judges try to decide every case based on the facts presented to them, not on current politically correct philosophies. But Judges have to play the cards that are dealt to them. Judges examine the presented facts through their own attitudes and perceptions.
If the husband has been the family bread winner, and child care has been the primary role of the wife, those are the facts before the Court. The Judge cannot just ignore facts and reality.
If the wife earns less than the husband, that is a fact. If the husband has been working long hours away from the home and children, that is a fact. These traditional roles of bread winner and homemaker still exist, and they favor the wife with winning custody, child support, alimony, and possession of the family home.
These traditional roles have the man earning more money, and therefore in a better position to pay the family debts, child support and alimony. The financially weaker wife legitimately needs the money from their spouse to pay the bills. Separation does not generate more money. It generates more bills.
Most husbands are stuck on the wrong side of the equation in divorce.
As the historically primary care provider for the children, the wife is in a better position to win temporary custody.
With the award of child custody goes the house and better car. As primary custodian, the wife cannot go out and make more money. So the husband is ordered to pay the family bills, and now child and spousal support.
An experienced Family Law attorney can help with damage control and perceptions.
This is a grim picture for men entering the divorce process. An experienced Family Law attorney cannot change the facts, but we can help with damage control and perceptions. We can help the Judge to understand that the father has an equal right to a fair parenting plan. We can explain that the husband should not be punished because he has been a good provider for the family. We can make certain that the facts presented to the Judge are the true and correct facts, and not unfairly crafted to be in favor of only the wife.
Yes, the deck is stacked against men. But a good lawyer can make certain the hand is dealt fairly.