Father’s Rights

Father's RightsWhen looking for divorce lawyers for men, it is important to understand that a competent and ethical attorney should be focused primarily on the rights and interests of the client. The greatest strengths an attorney can offer a client are:

  1. Competent analysis and strategy
  2. Thorough construction of a case
  3. Credibility before the court

An attorney’s predilections for or against a social or political cause offers no measurable benefit when representing a client in a case before a judge. It is for these reasons that McKinley Irvin represents both men and women equally, choosing to focus on the rights and interests of the client, rather than a social cause.

Are Men Treated Fairly in Family Law Court?

Historically, men have not always received a fair chance in family law matters. For many years, courts presumed that mothers should always get custody of the children and fathers should almost always pay child support and maintenance (alimony). Sands McKinley, the founding partner of McKinley Irvin, describes his experience representing male clients years ago:

“When I started practicing family law in 1991, my male clients always had the uphill battle as compared to my female clients with respect to getting a fair and just result in family law cases. I always had to work harder when I represented men. At that time, there was a general presumption that the mother should always get custody of the children and that fathers could not manage caring for their children for more than a couple of over-nights at a time. When it came to finances, courts were very paternalistic toward women. Men were left financially bruised as courts held them almost exclusively responsible for child support and maintenance.”

Fortunately, most judges and commissioners now find these presumptions ridiculous. The term “divorce for men” has resulted in some courts, like King County, taking actions through training and policy to modernize the thinking of judges and commissioners with respect to the roles and responsibilities of men and women in families. Most Washington courts now favor more neutral and fact-driven resolutions of family law matters. Rather than presume the mother should get custody of the child, courts instead look at what custody arrangement is truly in the child’s best interests.

Rather than presume the woman should get maintenance, the courts look at the financial resources of both parties in order to determine if someone should receive maintenance. We see more men being awarded maintenance and child support. Sands McKinley attributes some of these changes to the rise of female judges on the bench:

Interestingly, it was always my experience that male judges tended to be tougher on men than female judges. With the increased number of women judges and commissioners on the bench, the historical paternalism of older male judges has faded to a significant degree. Women judges and commissioners are professionals who work hard, balance family and career, and rely on their spouses to share responsibility for the nurture and care of their children. In some instances, men may be better off having a female judge or commissioner decide their case.

How to Find an Attorney to Best Represent Your Case

Despite these changes, some law firms still only represent themselves as “divorce for men” in an effort to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. However, what is most important in the search for a family law attorney is not whether the attorney only represents men, but whether the attorney has the experience, talent, and resources to be an effective advocate.

At McKinley Irvin, we understand and appreciate the issues men face in family law matters. We have always been zealous advocates for our male clients, and in fact often—out of necessity—we have worked harder for our male clients to ensure they receive a fair and just result. Our commitment to representing all clients regardless of the client’s sex demonstrates our deep dedication to individual client service as opposed to serving a general cause. Our commitment in this regard also underscores our respect and dedication to our role as attorneys in the justice system. We are divorce for men attorneys and we continue to defend any groups that we feel are not treated fair or treated unequally.

To learn more about McKinley Irvin’s family law attorneys, please see our attorney profiles. We welcome you to schedule a consultation appointment.