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Outrageous Gender Bias: Felon Mom with Abusive Boyfriend Regains Custody of Toddler from Protective Father

March 4th, 2010 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

One parent lives in Utah, the other in Mississippi.  The parent in Utah has a history of felony convictions for things like forgery and theft.  When the little girl lived in Utah, an adult partner of the parent there abused her in some way.  The same person also reportedly threatened the two-year-old’s life.  So custody was transferred to the parent in Mississippi who has had her for the past 11 months.  Now a Mississippi court has ruled the child should be returned to the parent in Utah.

Did you have any trouble figuring out which parent lives in Utah and which in Mississippi?  Nope, neither did I.  Read about it here (WLBT, 2/27/10).

The father in Bentonia, MS, Curtis Foster is understandably upset.  He and his father have spent all their money and gone into debt to try to keep his daughter with him, but the court spurned their every effort.  Now they plan to spend still more appealing the court’s order.

Is it even conceivable that the court would have ruled the same way had the father been the wrongdoer?  How likely is it that a court would have returned custody to a father with multiple felonies on his record and a live-in partner who had already abused the child once and reportedly threatened to do worse?

Of course, there’s a small cottage industry devoted to claiming that abusive fathers routinely get custody.  The only problem with their claim is that they never manage to come up with a single instance in which that’s occurred.  Oh, they cite cases.  But in each case they cite, it turns out that the court exhaustively investigated the allegations and found them to be untrue.  And that’s the problem with that particular fringe group – they accept any allegation by a mother as true, the facts be damned.

Back in the real world though, the mere fact that only 16% of fathers in the United States have primary custody speaks volumes about the obstacles placed by family courts and family law between fathers and their children.  One of the new false factoids recently being peddled by anti-dad forces is that fathers get “custody” in 50% of cases in which they request it.  But what that refers to is “joint custody” in which Mom gets primary custody and Dad gets visitation every other weekend + if he’s lucky.

That arrangement would be radically unequal even if it were enforced, but it rarely is.  Let a dad miss a child support payment and the state will come down on him with both feet, but visitation is routinely ignored or abused by the custodial parent with not a peep from the court that issued the order.  As much social science shows, the primary custody/visitation arrangement quickly devolves into the custodial parent having virtually all parental decision making and the non-custodial parent taking the role of Disneyland parent.  That’s true irrespective of who – Mom or Dad – has primary custody.

Given the continuing strong preference of family courts and laws for maternal custody, it’s no real surprise that Curtis Foster’s child is being returned to her mother and her abusive boyfriend.  The “best interests of the child” is an astonishingly, er, flexible concept.

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