Cordell & Cordell Madison divorce attorney Cora Gennerman recently co-authored an article for the American Bar Association’s Family Advocate titled “Gender Bias in Family Law” that detailed the harmful effects gender bias can have on families in the family court system. The article also outlines strategies family law attorneys can utilize to help mitigate or eliminate that bias.
In the article, Ms. Gennerman notes that outdated stereotypes about the traditional roles men and women play in families can have disastrous consequences.
“These biases are dangerous in the sense that they sometimes lead peers, judges, neutrals, and attorneys to improperly believe that women should have greater parenting time than men, especially with younger children,” she wrote.
The article goes on to provide specific action items attorneys can take if they are confronted with this bias during the course of a family law case:
- Try to get away from the biased person
- Obtain the file and billing records of the biased third party
- Create data points and demonstratives to highlight the bias
- Keep a record of communications with the biased party
- Point out the bias
- Use facts and data to dispel the bias
- Don’t be afraid to present the evidence at hearing
- Mitigate bias by reframing issues
Ms. Gennerman’s article is an extension of Cordell & Cordell’s philosophy regarding gender bias in family law. The firm was founded with the belief that too often divorce lawyers and even judges resign themselves to stereotypes that perpetuate the status quo. In the 32 years since it was founded, the firm’s attorneys have battled to level the playing field for men and fathers going through divorce.
“We must continually remind each other of the long-term detrimental impact gender bias may have on a child,” Ms. Gennerman wrote. “Ultimately, family law practitioners must work with the judiciary and their opposing counsels to continue to form a culture where we acknowledge that gender bias has a deep-seated negative impact on families and work together to eliminate it.”