This article analyses the ways notions of fatherhood and motherhood are constructed, negotiated and articulated during divorce proceedings in Israel. The analysis is based on in-depth interviews with divorced parents, lawyers, judges and therapeutic professionals, and on a wide sample of divorce court files involving child custody arrangements. The main finding of the study is that while motherhood is ordinarily perceived as a taken-for-granted caring essence, fatherhood is a vague concept that has yet to acquire concrete meaning. Treating the law as an overwhelming arena of conceptual negotiations and practical applications, the study also finds that legal professionals have a significant role in shaping how both women and men grasp and act upon their parental rights and duties. By and large, I find that the impact of legal professionals to that effect, combined with a rather conservative family law system in the shadow of which the parties operate, impedes innovation and discourages men from assuming expansive parental roles after divorce. Hence this study provides a rich example of the contribution of law to the gendered social expectations and coercions determining women and men's ability to shape their parental roles and identities.