If Usher Can’t Get a Break in Court, the Average Dad Doesn’t Stand a Chance

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Superstar celebrities—singing, dancing, male heartthrob ones—aren’t excluded from living out their nasty custody battles in a courtroom. They’re just as susceptible, maybe even moreso, to being called on to prove or disprove some allegation being lodged against them about how they take care of their kids. That explains why Usher was on the stand earlier this week. He was testifying against ex-wife Tameka Foster, who’s reportedly seeking full custody of the two sons they had together before their marriage imploded back in 2009.

Mr. Entertainment recounted a story about Foster acting every part of the typical bitter ex, including trying to fist fight his current stylist and girlfriend (apparently Usher has a thing for gals with a flair for fashion since Foster had been his stylist, too). But when her lawyers questioned his fathering skills, he got a little misty-eyed, a little choked up, and a little upset. 

It’s a classic move: question the ability of a man to be a good daddy, especially if he wasn’t so great as a spouse or a significant other. Even though we like to idealize the two together as a total package, one doesn’t necessarily have to do with the other. I’ve known some dudes who were doozies as husbands but still managed to be excellent fathers. But it’s usually the first accusation that gets fired off when lawyers are trying to make a case for their female clients.

Gender bias in family court makes it harder for men to hold on to their visitation rights, a la Usher’s case, but it also makes it easier for women to levy unfounded allegations against their used-to-bes. But just like no dad should automatically be presumed a secondary or lesser parent, a mother shouldn’t be presumed to be a candidate for World’s Saintliest Mama.

Having a uterus doesn’t always guarantee one person is going to be any more nurturing or attentive than the other. But it’s hard to convince the court system of that one. The party who can wear a skirt to the proceedings usually has an advantage by default and that’s not always fair.

Now, I do think there is an overabundance of men who do half-step when it comes to their parental responsibilities. A good lawyer and a little well-placed slick talk can make them seem like the ever-dutiful father in the eyes of the law, and that’s no better than the woman flexing unfair accusations because they’re bitter about the breakup, mad about child support, or ready to move on with their lives and no longer want to be bound to the opinions and input of their kid’s dad. And it seems almost impossible to weed through the thousands and thousands of family court cases that shuffle through the system yearly to determine which is which.

But in a perfect world, there would be legal protection for the parent who, for no reason other than having a penis, is too often relegated to second-class status. I don't know Usher personally (alas), but if he's the good dad he appears to be, I'm rooting for fairness to be in his corner. Right next to the pricey legal team.

Do you think the court system shows favoritism to even not-so-great mothers?


Image via tixgirl/Flickr

family, exes, in the news


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Flori... Floridamom96

OH, HECK YES! Fathers are routinely screwed by the family court system. This is simply a reflection of a society where men are treated as expendable, especially as fathers.

nonmember avatar Jen

It differs in every state. In California, one parent is custodial and one has visitation even though that time split may be 80/20, 60/40, or 51/49. I'm just pointing out that in California, "going for full custody" just means that you want to be named the custodial parent (there can only be one), but the other parent could have the kids up to 49 % of the time.

Second, California family courts LOVEnoncustodial parents. You pretty much have to be in jail tto not get ample visitation. Drug addicts, alcoholics, and plain old crazy parents mess up, lose visitation , take a parenting class, then get their visitation reinstated. Over and over with unlimited chances.

My husband has had "full custody" since his son was two. The court system emphasis es the rights of the noncustodial parent to spend time with the child, even when it is problematic for the child.

katem... katemckenzie

Oh definitely. My fiance has been trying to get PARTIAL (note that I say partial, he doesn't even want full custody, he just wants to have say in his son's life) for over 4 years, and his ex is a HORRID mother. Yet he still doesn't have ANY custody. We live in Michigan. His son is FOUR, and has SIX filling, and TWO crowns on his molars. No kid that age should even have ONE filling! He's constantly fed sugar, that is, if he's fed at all, since she sleeps all day and leaves him to fend for himself. She constantly puts him in clothes that are WAY too small, and yells at us when we send him home with some well fitting clothes. Their house is constanly filthy, with dirty dishes, trash, and cat piss everywhere. My fiance gets parenting time, two days a week, but that's it. He has no legal say in where his son goes to school, what doctor he sees, etc. 
 His son is behind, and won't be starting kindergarten this fall, because his social skills, motor skills, and problem solving skills are awful. His mother never lets him play with kids because she thinks they're all dirty. She never teaches him anything. She treats him like a baby, so he acts like one. He can't count, and doesn't know his ABCs. We wanted him to go to preschool, because we knew that would help him a LOT. But his mother doesn't believe in preschool... So he didn't go. And now he'll be starting pre-k instead of Kindergarten with his friends.
Yet my fiance STILL can't get custody. Lovely system we have here.

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