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Larry Mendizabal

Larry Mendizabal is the newest winner of the Law Office of Geroge J. Skuros Justice in Family Law Scholarship. For the upcoming Fall 2023 semester, we are awarding Larry with a $1000 scholarship to use toward his academic expenses as he pursues his law degree. After graduating, Larry hopes to open his own law firm with his brother.

Larry Mendizabal

Read Larry's Essay:

The implementation and enforcement of family law in the United States play a critical role in determining the outcomes and well-being of families going through legal processes such as divorce, child custody disputes, and child support arrangements. However, within this system, numerous injustices persist, causing imbalances, hardships, and inequitable treatment for individuals involved, specifically children and men. This essay aims to shed light on the biased enforcement of child custody decisions that heavily favor mothers over fathers despite statistics that would support an opposite outcome.

Since the 1970s, the advancement of women's rights has been a catalyst for positive change, yet it has also led to a virulent strain of third and fourth-wave feminism determined to emasculate men. This aggressive advocacy seeks to transcend mere equality and achieve social dominance by dismantling the nuclear family. While striving for equality and dismantling harmful gender stereotypes is important, it is equally important to recognize that some approaches may unintentionally lead to imbalances and injustices in the family law system.

One of the glaring injustices is the biased enforcement of child custody decisions that disproportionately favor mothers. Statistics reveal a significant shift in the percentage of children living with only their biological mother, rising from 10.7% in 1968 to over 21% in 2020. Men on the other hand had 1% custody in 1968 compared to 4.5% in 2020. However comparing the 15.3 million children in 2020 living solely with their mothers compared to the 3.3 million children living solely with their fathers, we see that women achieve sole custody 82% of the time when sole custody is the outcome. Women in the US also initiate 69% of divorce proceedings, and as a result, mothers often wind up with custody most of the time. However, the question of whether mothers are overwhelmingly the worthier parent arises. It is clear that this bias places fathers in a gender-biased construct, where they face significant challenges in fighting for equal custody rights. As a consequence, many fathers find themselves marginalized and reduced to mere visitors in their children's lives.

The consequences of these biased custody decisions extend far beyond the affected fathers themselves. Studies have shown alarming suicide statistics among fathers ensnared in the divorce system. They are eight times more likely to die by suicide compared to women, meaning that for every child of divorce who loses their mother to suicide, eight lose a father. These distressing figures highlight the devastating emotional toll that biased custody decisions can have on fathers, leaving them feeling helpless, marginalized, and disconnected from their children's lives. However, studies show that children are the biggest losers when it comes to the consequences of these biased custody decisions. To name a few:

  1. 70% of teen births occur to girls in single mother homes. (1)
  2. 50% of single mothers are below the poverty line, their children are 6 times more likely to be in poverty than children with married parents.
  3. In 1996, 70% of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long sentences, were raised by single mothers.
  4. The proportion of single-parent households in a community predicts its rate of violent crime and burglary, but the community’s poverty level does not.
  5. 72% of juvenile murderers, and 60% of rapists came from single-mother homes.
  6. Growing up without a father could permanently alter the structure of the brain, and produce more children who are more aggressive and angry. Children brought up only by a single mother have a higher risk of developing deviant behavior, including drug abuse

Mothers and fathers are both vital to the well-being of our society, and both bring unique qualities and perspectives to parenting. Children benefit immensely from the involvement of both parents in their lives. Research consistently demonstrates that children with involved fathers score significantly higher on important measures of well-being, including emotional stability, academic achievement, and overall life satisfaction. A balanced parenting approach that encourages shared parenting and equal involvement from both parents can provide the best possible environment for children to thrive.

Moreover, biased custody decisions contribute to the denigration of the traditional role of a family patriarch and fatherhood as a whole. Traditional masculine traits, such as projecting strength and hiding vulnerability, have been increasingly seen as toxic in today's society. This leaves many adult males confused and adrift, lacking positive role models and guidance. The erosion of fatherhood's role in society has been perpetuated by factors such as pop culture, certain aspects of feminism, and a broken family law system. The repercussions of fatherlessness have reached epidemic proportions, yet the issue remains largely unaddressed. It is essential to recognize that demonizing men is not the solution; it only perpetuates the problem.

To rectify the injustice in the implementation and enforcement of family law, several crucial steps can be taken starting with the promotion of shared parenting. The default presumption in custody decisions should be shared parenting, with equal time and responsibilities for both parents. This approach ensures that children maintain meaningful relationships with both parents, providing them with stability, emotional support, a sense of belonging, and the best possible outcomes for their future. The family law system must address and eliminate gender bias in custody decisions. The worthiness of each parent should be evaluated based on their ability to provide a loving and nurturing environment, their commitment to the child's well-being, and their historical involvement in caregiving.

Furthermore, rectifying injustices requires ensuring Due Process and equal access to legal representation. Fathers, like mothers, should have equal access to legal representation and be afforded due process throughout the legal proceedings. Ensuring equal access to legal aid or affordable legal services can help level the playing field and ensure that fathers have a fair opportunity to present their side of the story. This means that fathers are innocent until proven guilty and have an equal footing and consideration as mothers. Mandatory mediation and parenting education would also benefit children and parents. Implementing mandatory mediation and parenting education programs can help parents develop effective co-parenting skills and foster better communication, even in high-conflict situations. By encouraging parents to work collaboratively and focus on the best interests of their children, the adversarial nature of custody battles can be minimized, leading to more satisfactory outcomes for both parents and children.

Finally, to truly protect the integrity of the courts, and the safety of fathers and innocent children, false allegations should be addressed, and perpetrators held accountable. False allegations of domestic violence or abuse should be dealt with in a way that protects relationships, dissuades the making of false accusations, and safeguards the constitutional rights of the accused. These allegations should be thoroughly investigated and tried in criminal court, holding perpetrators accountable for their actions and those who make false accusations liable for perjury charges and in some cases, criminal charges.

The implementation and enforcement of family law in the United States should prioritize fairness, equity, and the best interests of children. The biased enforcement of child custody decisions that favor mothers over fathers is an injustice that must be rectified. By promoting shared parenting, eliminating gender bias, ensuring due process, and providing mandatory mediation and parenting education, the family law system can create a more equitable environment for families.

It is essential to recognize the invaluable role that fathers play in their children's lives and move away from traditional gender roles and stereotypes that hinder progress toward gender equality. The positive outcomes for children in the custody of fathers emphasize the importance of rectifying this injustice and fostering a more inclusive and balanced approach to child custody decisions. By addressing these issues, society can ensure that both fathers and mothers have equal opportunities to maintain meaningful relationships with their children and contribute to their overall well-being. Only then can the family law system fulfill its intended purpose of safeguarding the rights and welfare of all family members involved.


Washington, Paul Hemez and Chanell. “Percentage and Number of Children Living with Two Parents Has Dropped since 1968.” Census.Gov, 25 Mar. 2022, www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/04/number-of-children-living-only-with-their-mothers-has-doubled-in-past-50-years.html.

“Women More Likely than Men to Initiate Divorces, but Not Non-Marital Breakups.” American Sociological Association, 28 Sept. 2022, www.asanet.org/women-more-likely-men-initiate-divorces-not-non-marital-breakups/.

Kposowa, A J. “Divorce and Suicide Risk.” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 1 Dec. 2003, jech.bmj.com/content/57/12/993.

Palmer, Ron B. “Fix Family Courts.” Fatherless Single Mother Home Statistics, 9 Dec. 2022, www.fixfamilycourts.com/single-mother-home-statistics/.

  1. David T. Lykken, “Reconstructing Fathers”, American Psychologist 55, 681,681, 2000
  2. Chuck Colson, “How Shall We Live”, Tyndale House.
  3. Wade Horn, “Why There Is No Substitute For Parents”, IMPRIMIS 26, NO.6, June, 1997
  4. D.A. Smith and G.R. Jarjoura, “Social Structure and Criminal Victimization,” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 25. 1988.”
  5. Chuck Colson, “How Shall We Live?” Tyndale House , 2004, p.323
  6. Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, McGill Univ. and Francis Bamlico, Center for Addiction and Mental Health, publishing in the journal, “CEREBRAL CORTEX.”
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