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  • Writer's pictureStephen Williams

Identifying and Challenging “Naturalistic Fallacy” in Child Custody and Divorce

Updated: Mar 14

The naturalistic fallacy is a common error in reasoning that occurs when people confuse what is natural with what is right or good. This fallacy assumes that if something is natural, then it must be morally correct or ethically sound. However, this is not always the case, and this kind of thinking can lead to problematic conclusions and decisions, not to mention unfair or inappropriate results in your Child Custody or Divorce case.

The naturalistic fallacy is often seen in debates about child custody, where a party or judge might argue that one parent or the other has some sort of default advantage in Child Custody. With DHR or Relative Caregivers, a party or Judge might assume that a child is better off with their biological parents because it is natural (not really DHR’s problem ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). However, this reasoning ignores the fact that what is natural is not always what is best for a child’s education, development, and well-being.

In this blog post, we will explore the naturalistic fallacy in more detail and examine how it applies to child custody disputes.

Understanding the Naturalistic Fallacy

The naturalistic fallacy is based on the assumption that what is natural is good and what is not natural is bad. This reasoning is flawed because it assumes that nature is inherently moral or ethical, which is not the case. Nature does not have an inherent morality, and what is natural does not always align with what is right or good.

For example, it is natural for animals to kill other animals for food, but this does not mean that it is morally acceptable for humans to do the same. Similarly, it is natural for humans to experience emotions such as anger and jealousy, but it is not always ethical to act on these emotions.

The naturalistic fallacy is a type of circular reasoning, where people use the conclusion that something is natural to justify why it is good or right. This reasoning is problematic because it does not provide any actual evidence or reasoning to support the conclusion.

Applying the Naturalistic Fallacy to Child Custody

In child custody disputes, the naturalistic fallacy can be seen in arguments that prioritize biological parenthood over other factors, such as the child’s well-being or the ability of the parents to provide a stable and safe environment for the child.

More specifically, to argue that a Mother should get physical custody and a Father should pay Child Support based on a human, anthropological history that women were typically caregivers while men were typically providers like hunters or warriors applies a naturalistic fallacy. Research has shown that both men and women are equally capable of providing nurturing and supportive environments for their children.

Improper applications of the naturalistic fallacy cut both ways. It’s possible that a Mother and Father are held to different standards, perhaps, when it comes to their social life or their use of substances. A Father who lays out and mixes it up, socially, when he doesn’t have the kids is a cheeky libertine but a Mother who’s out enjoying her time without the kids and living her best life? Tisk tisk. ( We chalk this up to jealousy most times we see it. )

Applying the Naturalistic Fallacy to Divorce

In Divorce, the naturalistic fallacy is less of a problem, but not nonexistent. One particularly insidious example might be that a woman who commits adultery, especially when she has kids, is less innocent than a man who commits adultery and is “just a guy being a dude.” Do you guys think we’re making this up?

Another example might be that the Court assumes a Wife is due more spousal support or alimony than the same facts, just reversing the genders, may support a Husband getting from a Wife, because the Wife is less capable of making it on her own. ( There are practical realities in terms of a wage gap that SHOULD NOT be ignored, but facts like those should be considered, not whether something is “natural” or not.)

The key point is to make sure there are facts that support a fair result one way or the other and that those facts are considered without regard to anachronistic notions about what’s “right” just because it’s “natural.”

Our Society, through our laws, has Chosen that Equal Rights is the Law.

We make choices as a society. Our United States Constitution and its interpretation by the Supreme Court of the United States reflects our choice that Men, Women, and Non-Binary individuals have the same fundamental rights, including raising their Children, earning a living, and enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Therefore, neither our laws, our family courts nor our modern society are bound by the roles or relationship dynamics of life on the savannah or prehistoric tribe.


If you would like to learn more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can stand up for yourself and be more effective in your Child Custody, Divorce, DHR or Adoption case, will you CLICK HERE to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices?


This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. ~SW, Foxtrot

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