Before and during a divorce both parents have joint legal and physical custody of children until a court rules differently, reports About.com. Gender bias and custody laws in divorce cases vary greatly from state to state and even from county to county, according to USA Today.
Although fathers and mothers have equal custody rights until a court ruling, many fathers don't take advantage of their rights or give them up because they think they have no chance in a custody battle, explains About.com. Gender bias against paternal custody includes myths that fathers are not nurturing, don't have time to care for children or don't know enough about how to raise children. In fact, court determinations of sole or joint custody for fathers is based on factors such as mutual agreements of the parents, the best interests of the children, the children's wishes, proper documentation of paternal involvement, and the father's appearance and demeanor in court.
To prepare for possible gender bias in a court considering custody, a father should hire a competent lawyer sympathetic to paternal rights, reports About.com. If possible, a father should maintain good communication with the mother and create a joint parenting plan. Fathers who can prove involvement in a child's schooling and upbringing prior to the separation have a better chance of gaining sole or joint custody in court, states USA Today.