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Family court gender bias: Judge not biased simply because of her gender

By September 7, 2020February 23rd, 2024No Comments

Family court gender bias: A man’s “ludicrous” argument that a female family court judge was biased against him due to her gender was tossed out of court for the second time when appeal judges dismissed his appeal in relation to a family court gender bias.

In the case, which the courts have given the pseudonym Walker and Page, a father appealing a family law matter had wanted his trial judge to recuse herself on the basis that, being female, she would be prejudiced by her gender. But the courts have now dismissed his appeal in relation to this, saying the family court gender bias argument was “clearly without merit”.

The parties had been engaged in property settlement proceedings for more than 10 years after their final separation. Final property orders between the parties were made in 2018. He also tried to appeal on separate, procedural grounds but these were also dismissed.

The family court gender bias argument

The crux of the man’s complaint was that the judge was a female who had previously practiced as a family lawyer. Because the wife was a practising family lawyer herself, and regularly appears in the courts, the husband wanted to argue that, “A fair minded lay observer might form the opinion…You both are female family court lawyers. You both attend the same associations, and that there will be a degree of unknown bias, as has been established.”

The husband said the judge and the ex-wife are both members of various women’s legal associations. But apart from the fact that the argument itself was “ludicrous”, the man offered no evidence to corroborate his assertions and even if the judge and ex-wife were members of the same legal associations, this wouldn’t be a sufficient argument for an apprehension of bias. Allegations of bias are treated seriously and require a high level of corroborated evidence, the court said.

Regardless, the courts did not accept neither gender, nor two women’s potential legal associations, as a basis for recusal and the appeal was dismissed for lack of substance.

You can read this case here.

This case is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of attitudes towards to how men and women are treated in the family court system. The debate is diametrically opposed. There are groups out there who habitually accuse the judiciary and the family court system of being biased against men–this man is just one example, claiming: “You know, I’ve just been sitting in the back of your court, and every single man gets reamed”.

And on the other hand, you have people arguing that it’s women who are treated poorly in the judicial system. So far the debate has not progressed very far, but as we keep saying, we can only put our faith in ongoing family law reform.

If you need family law help, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.

Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.

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