While hardly mentioned in high-profile discussions of sexism and gender inequality, family law and family courts support enormous and oppressive gender inequalities. In the U.S. as of 2005, about fourteen times more mothers than fathers have received physical custody of their children.[*] About eleven times more men than women are subject to legally enforced child-support payments. In short, through institutionalized sexism and sex discrimination, women are given physical custody of children, and men are given legal responsibility to provide money to them.
Sex discrimination in child custody and child support urgently merits close examination. The lack of public discussion of this important issue reveals fundamental sex differences in social communication.
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- sex discrimination in child custody and child support
- sexist motherhood statements in Turner v. Rogers’ briefs
- legal standards for imprisoning persons for child-support arrears
[*] The legal fiction of legal custody is no substitute for gender equity. The two most common custody arrangements are joint legal custody with the mother having physical custody, and the mother having sole legal and physical custody. Legal custody means relatively little compared to physical custody. A parent is never given physical custody without legal custody. The practical significance of having legal custody, but not physical custody, is relatively small.
The ratio of mothers to fathers awarded physical custody is different from the ratio of women to men with custody of children. Among married heterosexual couples, both husbands and wives have custody of their children.