So, in Maryland, a state with an Equal Rights Amendment, the answer, by law, is no, right? A lot of guys, and many women, just don’t buy it. Is it true, myth, hype or situational?

I vote for the latter, and I will tell you why. And that is why if you are being courted by a law firm that advertises and otherwise says it ONLY represents men or men’s rights, quite frankly, I would run away from that type of a pitch, very quickly.

I have seen, and represented, so many men who obtain joint legal custody, equal custody or primary physical custody of their child or children from a woman magistrate or judge, it just can’t be a fluke.

It all starts back at the very beginning. And by beginning, I mean the very beginning of the story of the couple. Sometimes, that means the very beginning of the relationship. Other times, it means the ending of the relationship. The majority of the time, it means how the beginning of the separation is handled.

Whether a couple “uncouples,” how that occurs almost always dictates what type of emotional uncoupling is likely to occur. The more dramatic, emotional and unfortunately, sometimes, violent the uncoupling, the more contested the process is likely to be, especially without a strong early intervention.

So, what does a guy have to do to maximize a low impact uncoupling that will result in the most shared parenting time possible?

Here is my guide:

1. Keep your mouth shut. Don’t do anything to make matters worse, and quite frankly, get a lot of help before you say too much.

2. Get to a highly experienced divorce attorney right off the bat, get an excellent education and understand your options. A high quality consult should not cost you a penny, and if a highly experienced divorce attorney wants to charge for that consult, go somewhere else. Divorce law firms make money from representing clients in their cases, not consultations. At a high quality consultation, (a) you should be listened to, (b) you should get a great education about the family law process as it applies to you, and (c) you should get a menu of options as to how to proceed.

3. Get a counselor, therapist, social worker or psychologist consult. Way too many people, men and women, ignore this step. These are the professionals trained to teach you how to keep the other parent/spouse feeling positive enough about you that they will not want to highly contest custody issues, if you do it right.

4. When you are in a true high conflict case, due to domestic violence, alcohol or drug dependence, mental health or other very difficult and challenging issues, don’t be afraid of using the legal process from the outset. There are some types of people who require “hearing it” from a judge.

Remember, how your separation occurs, what happens just before that and just after that, all play into the patterns of distrust in your case. When you are a guy, it seems natural that a female magistrate or judge might put herself in the place of your female spouse, even if just for an instant. “How would I feel,” is natural to go through someone’s head. What women do not realize is that the same is true when they are before a male magistrate or judge.

What should you take away from this blog? You can make the gender of the magistrate or judge not matter in your case with proper planning, actions and meetings with a highly experienced divorce attorney very early on in your case.

I will leave you with one last thought: don’t you think the magistrates and judges know the attorneys who only represent men’s rights? Of course they do. Think about what that magistrate or judge is thinking, if you appear in court with an attorney who is heck bent in making this ONLY about gender and NOT about the real issues?