Most courts prefer giving full or primary custody to mothers. There are certainly gender biases at play here that favor handing custody over to women, but the fact is that while men are becoming more involved as parents, women still take on most of the work. Men also do not ask for full or primary custody as often as women do. 

In spite of this, there are instances when women lose custody of children to men, so how does it happen? Forbes claims that a common answer is parental alienation ― or rather, accusations of it. 

Allegations of abuse 

Parental alienation happens when one parent fabricates lies about the other and uses those lies to alienate children from the other parent by brainwashing the children to believe the lies. Other times, parents accomplish this without telling any lies at all by playing up the faults in a person. The truth is that many mothers make up abuse stories to keep the children to themselves, but often, the stories are true and these women might lose custody because the man alleges parental alienation. 

Effects of parental alienation 

Psychology Today points out that men are also often guilty of parental alienation themselves. However, regardless of which parent is at fault, parental alienation can have devastating effects on children. The lies might damage the child’s ability to bond with that parent. In some cases, one parent successfully turns the child against an entire gender or sex of people. This can have long lasting negative effects on their lives for years to come. 

Ultimately, it is up to courts to determine when allegations are true or constitute parental alienation. This is very difficult, especially if the parent alleging abuse has no proof. Subsequently, many abused men and women fear the act of bringing up abuse in the courtroom and end up sharing custodial rights with abusive partners who often use the children as pawns to control their exes.