Study dismisses suggestion of gender bias in family courts

A new study seems to disprove the traditional assumption that the UK’s family courts are biased against men.

Recent research by the University of Warwick and the University of Reading examined almost 200 children cases since 2011 and found that men are just as likely to have a contact application approved as women.

It may be true that mothers are more likely to be made the primary carer, but the study would suggest that this is principally because they tend to already be in that role when a relationship breaks down.

Otherwise the findings challenge the popular view that fathers are at a disadvantage when they take their case to court, with men’s applications “overwhelmingly successful” in the majority of cases.

Maebh Harding, from the University of Warwick, who collated the data, said: “[There is] no indication of any bias towards mothers over fathers by the courts; in fact we established there was a similar success rate for mothers and fathers applying for orders to have their children live with them.”

The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, offers a generally positive view of the role of family courts in resolving disputes over children.

Although there is some suggestion that the interests of fairness towards the parents is sometimes put ahead of the best interests of the child.