Do men come off second best in family law?

Child & Parenting Matters, Separation, Divorce, & Relationship Matters, Understanding Family Law

Do men come off second best in family law?

We are often asked whether men come off second best in a family law property settlement or whether the court favours mothers over fathers when deciding custody matters.

The Family Law Act is the law that governs family law in Australia. The law is gender-neutral – It does not differentiate between Mums from Dads. There is no presumption that a mother gets custody of the children over the father. Australian family law does not give women an advantage over men.

The myth that women get more custody of the children than men likely comes from men and women historically taking on traditional roles of breadwinner and homemaker in relationships and marriages. Society’s norms previously saw men take on the breadwinner role and women the role of homemaker and staying home to care for the children. These traditional roles that men and women formed during relationships usually continued after separation. It may be correct that in child custody matters, the Court may more often order children live with the Mother rather than the Father. It may be in those matters that the mother has been the children’s primary carer throughout the relationship or that the father works away and cannot take on as much care of the children. In the last 20 years or so, we have seen this trend at Court start to change. Dad’s are taking on as much (and sometimes more) of a role of parenting as mums. Likewise, women are contributing financially to the household equally or often more so than males. Lawyers also have a part to play in shifting this trend. Good lawyers will advise their clients that the law does not favour one gender over another.

There have been plenty of cases where children have been ordered to live with the Father, rather than the mother. It all depends on the facts of each individual case. No two families are the same. What suits one family may not suit another. Children have two parents. One of the legal principles that underpins Australian family law is that children have the benefit of a meaningful relationship with BOTH their parents to the maximum extent consistent with the children’s best interests.

So, what about property settlements?

Similarly, the myth that men come off second best in a family law property settlement likely stems from women historically receiving a more significant division of the property pool for future needs. “Future needs” is a step in the process that the court must consider when determining who gets what in a property settlement. The Court must look at what each parties needs are in the future. In the historical traditional family where the wife has been out of the workforce for several years in order to stay at home and care for the children, the Court will likely make an adjustment in the wife’s favour.

What was once the norm is no longer. Families have changed. At Cairns Family Law Group, we have had many male client’s whose children live equally with them. We also have plenty of female clients that earn more than their partners or husbands. Good lawyers can advise clients on what the likely range is in a property settlement considering the relevant factors.

Contact our Cairns family lawyers to obtain advice that is individual to your circumstances.

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