Is there a gender bias by courts when it comes to awarding custody?

By Leslie J. Shaw
December 21, 2017
Is there a gender bias by courts when it comes to awarding custody?

We have to start with the recognition that legally any type of gender bias favoring a parent based upon the fact that they're a mother or a father would be impermissible by almost every legal standard that I'm aware of. I think your question is more directed towards the reality of what happens in the courts today. And I'm pleased to report that while I've been litigating custody matters for the better part of the past 40 years, I don’t see a gender bias in the courts either in California or Nevada.

In fact I would go so far as to say that many family law judges will look at divorce, or dissolution of marriage, and that's really dependent upon which states, the titles we are using, they're really synonymous. Most courts will look upon the opportunity of divorce to allow parties to maybe redefine their roles a little bit, differently than during the marriage.

So, if one parent was a breadwinner, while one was a stay at home homemaking parent, the court might well embrace that breadwinner's desire to now refine his or her role in the relationship and spend time at home. And the court might expect of a stay at home parent that now given the new circumstances of divorce, they may need to go out of the home and start generating through gainful employment, money for their support and support of the children. So, I'm happy to report that not only do I not see a gender bias, but I see the courts open to redefining what could have been oftentimes gender related roles during happier days in the marriage.

Leslie Shaw practices family law in both California and Nevada, and has been involved in close to 1,000 family law matters largely involving litigation throughout his 40 year career. He is also a Certified Family Law Attorney, a status granted by the California Board of Legal Specialization. To learn more about Leslie and his practice, please visit

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December 21, 2017
Categories:  FAQs

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