Many people believe that an inherent gender bias exists in the family court system and that mothers are heavily favored in custody disputes. While some states’ practices seem to support this belief, Arizona has taken efforts to prevent gender bias. Courts in Arizona are actually legally prohibited from considering gender in parental disputes.
Instead of gender, many courts’ decisions in custody cases have to do with the disposition of the parents and claims of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). PAS is the idea that one parent is alienating the other from the children. Psychiatrist Richard Gardner proposed PAS in the 1980s in an attempt to explain an unusually high rate of abuse allegations against fathers in family law cases.
Claims of parental alienation are most common in child custody cases in which there are allegations of physical or sexual abuse. When women claim that fathers are physically or sexually abusive, and fathers counter with claims of parental alienation, there is a significant impact in case outcomes. In cases where mothers claimed abuse, alienation claims on behalf of the father doubled his chances of winning custody.
Because Arizona courts cannot take gender into consideration, they base their decisions instead on the child’s best interests. When determining the primary parent based on those standards, Arizona courts consider factors like a parent’s relationship with the kid, the mental/physical health of all family members and claims of domestic violence.
If someone is involved in a custody dispute, especially one involving abuse claims, or has general questions regarding fathers’ rights in Arizona, he or she may consult an attorney right away. An attorney familiar with family law can help people get the most favorable outcome possible.