Dealing with gender stereotypes against men in family law is nothing new for seasoned divorce lawyer Dorothy Walsh Ripka.
Her experience with a biased child custody evaluator highlighted everything Ms. Ripka and Cordell & Cordell fight for with respect to father’s rights.
In the custody battle between the mother and the father, the original custody evaluator’s report was filled with stereotypes and anti-dad biases and recommended the mother have primary custody.
Ms. Ripka found an unbiased evaluator for a second opinion that ultimately ended up favoring the father and the judge awarded primary custody to the dad.
“It shows that we don’t accept the norm,” she said. “We keep fighting about what is truly in the child’s best interest and not just accepting societal norms that the child should automatically be with the mom.”
Ms. Ripka said it’s her responsibility to help clients cope with what can be an emotionally and financially challenging situation. It is crucial for men to hire an attorney they feel comfortable talking to so that there are no secrets.
“I want to make sure clients know what they say is not being judged,” Ms. Ripka said. “Nothing you tell me will shock me or is probably even the worst thing that I have heard today.”