If there's any area in life where men aren't always treated fairly, it may be in divorce. There are many reasons for this. Decades ago, men were almost always the primary breadwinners and often provided the only source of household income. Their wives were usually the primary caregivers of the children. So when the family went through a divorce, women were given primary or sole custody of the children and their husbands provided child support and alimony.
As more women entered the workforce and more fathers played an active role in raising the children, things shifted. Child custody was more often shared and sometimes fathers were awarded primary custody. Orders for women to pay child support and even alimony slowly trickled in. But even in recent years, many husbands and fathers have felt disadvantaged in family court. For example, many men have been advised to be careful not to show any anger lest they be accused of domestic violence or be subject to a restraining order.
In response, some law firms began marketing themselves as husband specialists, promising to work aggressively on behalf of men who might otherwise be treated unfairly by a judge during divorce and child custody hearings.
Those law firms continue to exist, but it's important to keep in mind that a good family law attorney will cater to a client's specific needs without specifically marketing themselves toward one sex or the other. Fortunately, trends in family law are heading in that direction, too. Not only are more fathers being awarded child custody, but laws are changing to ensure equality among the spouses. Texas, for example, has limits on the amount of alimony either spouse has to pay the other. A couple must be married for at least 10 years for this spousal support to even be considered, and the number of years for which alimony can be requested maxes out at 10. Since men are still the primary payers of spousal support, this is good news for ex-husbands who are usually not willing or able to support their ex-wives for life.
Fathers and husbands who rightfully expect fair treatment in family law are seeing it more often, and that's encouraging. Equality among the sexes will continue to ebb and flow in other aspects of society, but a qualified family law attorney should have no problem protecting your rights, no matter what your gender.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Lawyers Carve Out 'Divorce For Men' Niche," Jennifer Smith, July 23, 2012
- Our firm handles a wide variety of family law issues. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Dallas family law website.