Although Iran and the US have different laws, Sahar understands firsthand just how much women can be disenfranchised by laws. “In the US, a lot of the laws that exist, even within family law, are geared towards men,” she said. “It’s just the nature of living in a patriarchal society.” And the influences of patriarchal social structure extend beyond tangible laws to societal pressures that women face, especially around social value.
At this point, it’d be remiss not to acknowledge the perception that courts favor mothers in cases of divorce or child custody. However, a 2018 report done by the US Census states that though 79.9% of custodial parents are mothers, in 51% of the cases, the parents agree that the mother should have custody — in that the father is not denied custody. In fact, fathers can be favored even if accused or found guilty of abuse.
In 2017, Joan S. Meier, a professor of clinical law and director of the National Family Violence Law Center at the George Washington University Law School, conducted a pilot study of family courts’ treatment of custody cases involving abuse and alienation claims. After analyzing 238 cases, the study indicates courts actually favor fathers over mothers in child custody cases involving abuse and parental alienation claims against either parent.