Close the pay gap? Get dads involved? Default 50% visitation, no child support

50 50 custody no child support

 

In my work writing about women, money and family in the United States, there are two prevailing issues:

  1. Dads who do not live with their kids are barely involved. (Just 22% of dads who live apart from their children see them more than once weekly, per Pew.)
  2. That pay gap will. not. close.

Here’s the answer:

Start all custody negotiations at a default 50-50 visitation and custody, with no child support or alimony.

While there is great movement towards equally shared visitation time in at least 20 states, the majority of family courts still default to some version of model that has prevailed in separated families for decades:

  • Dad pays mom child support, and maybe alimony.
  • Mom is primary custodian and dad gets “Friday night special” — every-other weekend, and Wednesday night dinners.

This antiquated arrangement only reinforces the sexist notions:

  • Women are incapable of supporting themselves.
  • Fathers are inferior parents.

Indeed, this outdated agreement holds women, men, families and the economy back.

I can tell you first-hand it is a heck of a lot harder to get ahead professionally and financially if you are the sole- or majority care provider for children. If we unburdened  the 10 million single mothers in this country from this responsibility (64 percent of millennial moms have had at least one baby out of wedlock, according to Johns Hopkins), and forced fathers to be true co-parents, gender economics in this country would look very, very different.

sell engagement ring

For starters, unmarried moms would have so, so much more time to invest in their careers and businesses. They would not be the default caregiver when kids barf in the night and need to stay home from school. Moms would not automatically be the parent that must leave work early for teacher meetings, or systematically forgo career-advancing work travel or evening networking events. More shared visitation will also afford moms much-needed time to rest, exercise and develop relationships and interests outside of their kids that make women happier mothers and more productive citizens.

Two, fathers would be forced to make the hard work-life decisions that women have known for generations, leveling the workplace playing field.

Three, it would create a collective mindshift at home, work and in the bedroom.


Listen to my Like a Mother podcast episode on the topic:


Other ways to listen: iTunes  ♦  Stitcher   ♦  TuneIn   ♦  SoundCloudGoogle Play



If women know they can never rely on a man outside of marriage for income, we will make different, better decision about our careers, and money.

If men know they cannot skirt their parental responsibilities, they will be more thoughtful about bringing babies into the world.

When divorce courts force both sexes to participate in the workforce and with children in equal measure, that message trickles into all families — including married and single-people homes.

When both sexes are forced by court or social pressure to parent equally, men and women on corporate boards, in Congress, in C-suites, and on down make different, better policies for workers and families.

Plus, this presumed, equal and fair arrangement relieves courts of the endless bickering and petitions that distract from extreme cases — like actual abuse and neglect — for which deviation from this rule would be appropriate.

I know the pushback:

I am the better parent. I am the mother! I don’t want him to have more than 30% vistitation. It’s not good for the kids.  

If he is safe to be with the kids 30% — or 10%, or 20% — he is safe to be with them 50%. Just because the child lived in your uterus does not mean you get more say in how they are raised. Men will never step into their full father potential if we keep assuming they are the inferior parent.

We agreed I would give up my career to stay with the kids, and it is not fair that my standard of living is compromise because he wants to divorce! 

You’re not a child, and he is not your father. You entered into marriage knowing the risks. You are an adult woman who as political and economic rights that you chose not to exercise. That was not a good decision, and I am sorry you made them, but it is not another person’s responsibility to pay for those decisions. If you want a higher standard of living, you are free to pursue a career that will afford you that. Now that he has the kids 50%, you have plenty of time to do that.

He is supposed to take the kids half the time but never shows up. I still shouldn’t pursue child support?

That is a decision that you have to make. Yes, if he doesn’t care for the kids half the time, he should step up and care for them financially. But keep in mind these things:

  • He will always and forever resent giving you that money and it will be a wedge between you in any co-parenting.
  • Psychologically, taking that money will likely hold you back. He is a man you are no longer tied to romantically, and from whom you are (or should be) striving to create a separate life. Money ties people together. You risk being dependent on him. Tread carefully.

My kids are so little! My baby is nursing! 50-50 doesn’t make sense! 

I agree. This is about being reasonable and what is good for the greater sum, without abandoning the individuals. Nursing babies and their moms, temporarily, require certain circumstances. So do disabled adults, and deployed military. A move to default equal visitation and no support will not be painless. But they are necessary steps in an evolution towards financial and parental equity.

 

Related:

How to get dads involved in divorced and separated families

What to tell your kid when their dad is not involved

My kid’s dad isn’t involved and I don’t know what to say

The real reason your ex doesn’t see the kids

Close the pay gap? Get dads involved? 50-50 visitation and no child support

Should you date a guy who doesn’t see his kids?

A dad explains: “Why I don’t see my son.”

 

Please listen to Terry Brennan, of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, explain why default every-other-weekend visitation leads to absentee fathers. Note that in cases where ‘standard’ visitation is awarded — every-other-weekend — fathers become depressed and non-involved, and within 3 years, one study found, 40 percent of children in an unequal visitation arrangement had lost complete touch with their non-custodial parents, which are nearly always the father. Have a listen:

Other ways to listen: iTunes  ♦  Stitcher   ♦  TuneIn   ♦  SoundCloudGoogle Play

 

 

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133 thoughts on “Close the pay gap? Get dads involved? Default 50% visitation, no child support

  1. I hear what you are saying. Level the playing field, coparenting equality, gender gaps, blah blah blah. The problem is more complicated than that. It’s not that simple. We can’t just expect that these men are even willing step up and take on more of the parenting responsibility. No amount of progressive idealism is going to inspire “some” men to be more involved, even if it does mean a lower financial responsibility for them. Men and women bitch and complain all the time about child support and alimony which I agree holds us in a co-parenting Bermuda triangle of resentment, entitlement, and quite frankly stifles our true earning potential. Anyways how many parents are given a set schedule of time with their children and don’t even choose to exercise it. I am delighted to hear of men in my extended group that are happily involved in their childrens post divorce life. But sadly, I think it is the exception not the rule.

    1. I agree with everything you said. There will be a generation or two of transition. But when laws change, society changes, social pressures change and new norms emerge. I am hopeful.

    2. Are you kidding me? Believe it or not most men actually want to be there for their children but courts play in the favor of mothers because it’s easier for them to make a profit off of a father being forced to pay child support. This post is outrageously biased towards women. Don’t just go off of some assumption that men don’t want to be apart of their children’s lives. Because, believe it or not there have been studies that show that when the roles are reversed women are less likely to even okay their court ordered child support. And, even then most single father don’t put the mother on child support. I agree with 50/50 custody just not for the reasons the extremely biased article stated.

      1. I don’t assume that all men are crappy dads who don’t want to get involved. But the majority, sadly are, which messes it up for the good guys.

        1. This is true statistically, and in my case. He is nowhere to be found although in the same city. I asked for him to be involved without child support because that was more important to me. But that wasn’t about to happen. And due to cultural differences, he kept all of this hidden from his family and signed everything off. The way I see it, it’s hard as a graduating college student to find a career. But the two times he has met his son, he showed no interest in him nor cared about the time he spent with him and instead played on his phone the whole time and have voiced his lack of interest in his own son due to not wanting that responsibility (we are 25). Exposing a child to a father who outwardly resents their child will only emotionally destroy them. So it’s hard for some of us in situations similar to mine– but I had to pick and choose my battles. There is no reason to have a sad kiddo about a biological father that will never be 100%. And even if I made that happen legally, it would still hurt my son because the father would still not be 100%. I wouldn’t be okay with leaving my child knowing he would feel lonely during the time he spent with his dad. Or just constantly let down by all the no-shows at school events, birthdays etc. But when he does ask who his biological father is (my son is 2) I will never speak poorly of him but will let my son decide for himself what he thinks of him. I will give him his contact info should he feel the desire to contact him. I’ve tried everything in my power but it has failed each time. I’m more concerned about the emotional end of things. I’d rather take the fall and struggle than my son wondering why his dad didn’t want to be involved.

        2. Huh? The “majority” “are crappy dads?” I don’t suppose you’d like to back that up with data or anything. The truth of course is the opposite, but why admit the truth when misandry is so much more fun. Plus, if you actually believe that, why are you promoting equal parenting? Let’s give equal time to “crappy parents.” This makes sense to you?

            1. These statistics are skewed – usually due to the court cutting the father out of the child’s life with visitation every other week. In fact many mothers (25%) admit to trying to keep the father away at some time during the last year.

              Myth #2: Fathers are more concerned with money than mothers.

              This persistent myth is often used to explain the belief that most fathers fail to provide financially for their children. However, judging by the reasons given by parents with physical custody, custodial fathers, more often than custodial mothers, choose not to force the other parent to pay child support (27.5% vs 22.9%) and also a higher percentage of mothers than fathers stated that they did not want their child to have contact with the other parent (21% vs 12.7). These facts are indicative of custodial mothers engaging in parental alienation.

            2. Anecdotally I see exactly what you suggest, Stephen (custodial mothers, choose not to force the other parent to pay child support (27.5% vs 22.9%) and also a higher percentage of mothers than fathers stated that they did not want their child to have contact with the other parent (21% vs 12.7).

              However, I also see men in droves choosing to step mostly or completely out of their kids’ lives.

            3. That number is only fathers who spend 0 nights with the kids under their roof. The majority of fathers are not included in that number

        3. “I don’t assume that all men are crappy dads who don’t want to get involved. But the majority, sadly are, which messes it up for the good guys.”

          This is gender bias. You assume that the majority of dads are crappy. You don’t have objective evidence to support this assumption, but you state it as if it is a fact.

            1. Extrapolating that 22% of dads see more than once a week doesn’t equate to them being crappy. All manner of reasoning, inability due to work/life balance, physical location practicality, shift working dads, mothers who want revenge using children as proxy, all of this more than rubbishes that ‘crappy dad’ misandry.

            2. Of course there will always be unusual circumstances, but those should account for less than 10%, not 78% of dads who live separate from their kids. Anecdotally, the numbers of dads who chose to not be involved with their kids at all, or in a meaningful way has been heartbreakingly shocking to me — and those stats support that.

            3. You got no evidence to say that those unusual circumstances accounts for less than 10%. You’re just stating figures without knowing the how or the why. If you go to court for access they’ll typically only grant the father every other weekend contact to average that only accounts for once a week. So you’re blaming the father when the court system is to blame.
              Parently alienation, the mother ignoring court orders, you know nothing about the figures

        4. I would like to know what you base that idea on? As the partner of a separated dad and both of us on a low income, he has had the fight of his life to wrestle 50/50 time (or any time at all initially!) from their mother. Representing himself in court, no access to child benefit (which the mother gets as a low income parent) coupled with the inability to work full time due to caring for them, constantly battling gender stereotyping – no wonder men walk away. There have been several times in the last 2 years my partner nearly gave up, he has suffered severe anxiety and depression as a result of what we’ve gone through.
          Society does not support men to parent their separated children. I really don’t believe for a minute that most men don’t care – they just realise the mountain they have to climb.

          1. If I’m reading this correctly your child’s father is fighting the court system to win more custody? Just because the court docs say it doesn’t mean it has to happen that way. Again, if my interpretation is correct of this reply… you have the power to allow your child’s father 50% custody- why not do it?

        5. That is just bs every dad i know that has split from their childs mother including me wants more time with kids but it tends to be the mother who refuses then courts back them up. Your just making excuses for lazy controling women

        6. The notion that majority of men don’t want to get involved with their children is not supported by the research in this field. Actually, most men do want to be involved but are faced by obstacles both systemically and relationally that result more often than not by their withdrawl from their children’s lives. See, for example, Edward Kruk, Divorce and Disengagement, 1993 Fernwood Publishing.

    3. There are a lot of dads that would love having their kids half the time. I would love the extra time with my daughter. Dads and moms parent differently and kids benefit spending equal time with both parents.

      1. Agreed. Is your relationship so bad with your daughter’s mother? Could you ask her for more time with your daughter? Just because it is in a document doesn’t mean you and you daughter’s mother couldn’t sort out an arrangement that affords you more time with your girl :)

      1. I’m not Emily but that’s an entirely different subject involving unequal pay or moms having some limitations due to pregnancy, maternity leave (lol that’s a joke) etc. men make more than women and that’s a sad reality.

        1. Exactly. Child custody should be a DIFFERENT decision from child support. One parent making more than the other is one thing should not be the reason for that parent to have less custody. But that is exactly what happens every day in the family courts throughout the country. Moms typically make less than dads (although these days there are more and more moms who make more, and that is a big reason why we are talking about this 50-50 issue now) so they need (or in many cases, want) money from dads. I have no problem with that. The problem is to get that support, moms fight tooth and nail to get as much custody as they can. And the fact is that more custody = more child support, so they fight for it. This is the same insanity before Obamacare, where health insurance is so tightly tied to employment (like somehow you don’t need health insurance if you are out of a job?) Every divorce lawyer with half a brain knows this fact so that’s why the first thing they would advise their client to do is to get as close a grip to the kids as possible. Everything else flows from there.

            1. And that mindset is one of the problems. You have a family, usually barely making things meet with the combined incomes of the parents. Then you split them up. The current mindset is, for the “best interest of the children”, the children, the house and the majority of the combined income will be directed toward one parent (usually the mom) so that the children will have minimal change. Now how is that going to affect dad? How is he gonna survive? Who cares.

            2. Illinois has done just that. My husband has 50-50 (which he fought for) and it doesn’t make a difference to the exorbitant child support that he pays his ex who still refuses to work. (Kids are 11 and 12, so thei age isn’t an issue). She lives of child support and my husband does the majority of the parenting. Gladly, by the way. I too would like to see numbers that show Dads are statistically “crappy parents.”

            3. I’ve read the article you referenced, “A Tale of Two Fathers”. It only provides information on the current state of affairs. It provides no explanatory information as to why.

        2. I agree temporary support to transition everyone to a two-house family makes sense. Long-term, child support only holds everyone back.

    4. But why just assume that men aren’t willing to step up? There are men who want 50/50 but are stuck being every other weekend dads due to the biased, sexist family court system.

    5. i am in my sons life as much as possible or allowed to be. But all I am to her is one of her multiple paychecks. I didn’t make the choice to leave the relationship or ha e multiple children with multiple fathers. If I could have my son every day I would but the laws still go one sided. And the good fathers just become a paycheck for the mothers to have an excuse not to work or allow true 50/50 custody becasue then their paycheck would stop

    6. Wake up most single dad go thousands of dollars in debt to the riged legal system just to get 30% with there kids. I would love to have my kids 50/50 as there mom only sees me as a pay check and she never parented during our marriage.

    7. I am almost certain it is not the exception, but it is the rule that most men desire and fight for shared parenting with their children after a divorce. The cards are stacked against them and the courts refuse to recognize them as an integral role in raising their children. Many mothers also do not put any stock into what a father brings to the table and refuse to co-parent and allow the father the time they and their children deserve to spend together. I am a father that has been fighting for 3 years for 50/50 custody after losing it because she simply made a request and it was granted. I speak with other fathers daily that are in my shoes. We are not the minority it’s just that no one is paying attention to us. These laws wouldn’t be passed if we were the minority. Feminist groups oppose shared parenting laws and in states like mine (Florida) have been able to force Governors to veto them. I would gladly trade you the $.21 an hr pay gap so I would be viewed as a worthy parent.

  2. I’ve been fighting with my ex so I can have my kids 50% of the time. She is refusing and making us battle it out in court as she doesn’t want to end the gravy train of child support. the only objection she had was how the support payments would go down, yet she has a job that she only works 20 hours a week. When we were together I supported her so she could be a stay at home mother, and she is still trying to have that after she walked out on me. I know a lot of fathers that are being deprived of time with their children and a change needs to be made. It took 2 parents to make the child and both parents should have equal opportunity to be with them as they grow up.

  3. This is an interesting read and a very touchy subject on which to comment. I am blessed in a smooth co-parenting relationship with my ex. He is the twice weekly dad as mentioned, and that is all he has ever wanted to be. That being said, I don’t receive alimony, only child support, Sadly, some parents would rather pay than be involved. They like the “idea” of parenting, not the reality. This usually shows up while the marriage is still intact; funny how when this carries into life after the divorce, people are surprised. They shouldn’t be.

  4. Does anyone even care about what it does to a child to have no real secure, stabile, safe place to call “home”, by being passed back and forth weekly, or every 6 months, or however this 50/50 works?! And yes, you should be able to go into marriage and think that it’s going to last. It’s MARRIAGE. it’s supposed to be a “till death do us part” type of thing! So if a woman gives up her career, to stay home and raise children, and the man walks out, he should have to continue to support her! Hers the things, our society would be much better if we could go back to some of the old fashioned ways of doing things, I know people won’t agree with that, but children need their moms. They need their parents to be TOGETHER. A child’s happiness, and security is important. Not just the parents happiness. Marriage is a contract, a covenant and everyone wants to break it at th drop of a dime because it’s been made so dang easy. Divorce is not supposed to be easy. My children would be ruined if they had to live in the cluster f***, chaotic, selfishness lifestyle of their fathers if he had them 50% of the time. And like mentioned above, this would not make dads better parents…most men don’t have it in them…women were created to be the ones who nurture. Not men. You’ll have a lot of children with issues when it comes to bonding and having relationships. I’ve seen it.

    1. Have you ever thought about what it does to kids that are deprived of quality time with either parent. I know that I am as good as parent than woman out there. Dads may not parent exactly like a women does, because its different doesn’t mean its wrong. Take the time to look up studies about how much better it is for kids that have shared parenting. Kids with involved fathers fare better through out their lives. Kids needs both parents.

      1. Actually the studies done regarding this have are faulty. They study children from particular backgrounds or “troubled” children which I don’t even like that term and find trends to support their theory. There are more factors that go along with it that everyone likes to leave out. I am in no way a man hating feminist, but I will shoot down this argument every chance I get. I can name more people who are “trouble” as adults due to their parents rather than an absent father. Sure, it poses quite a few questions, but that’s what mothers are for and who she surrounds herself with. It’s just like any other nuclear family. Married parents can be harmful too should their relationship be toxic. Many ways to work this.

        I apologize for taking over the comment section.

        1. Maggie: Here is a list of recent published studies that show that 50-50 is the best arrangement.

          I challenge you to “shoot this down” with your own list of published research that dispute this. The only thing I ask is that the research has to be done within the last 10 years. Heck, I would even agree to 20 years. There were so many “research” done from way back in the early feminism era using attachment theory and what not to justify assigning kids to mom only. There is a stream of publications in well-respected journals disputing this now.

          So again, please show me the research. I for one honestly want to know why opponents of shared parenting think that it is not a good thing. But please show real study, real research, not just personal opinion, which often is colored by personal history and biases.

            1. Or read Dr. Edward Kruk’s The Equal Parent Presumption. It cites all the relevant research. In a nutshell, there are 42 studies that come down on the side of equal parenting and none that support the sole parent or primary parent ones. This is old news. Two years ago, Warshak published a paper summarizing the science on shared parenting that was endorsed by 110 scientists worldwide.

        2. Exactly. An intact marriage does not equal healthy, happy, stable children. The variables to contribute to the former are wide, deep, and intricate. I watched a TedTalk (a researcher on divorce) about what happens to children after divorce – there was the anticipation of the proverbial, they fall in with the wrong crowd, drugs, poor grades, weak relationships – but the kicker was kids from intact families were showing up the same way. WHY? Not because of divorce – but because of the arguing and the lack of security a child/ren feels. It is the disdain, the hatred, the fighting, and how the child is taken care of AFTER the storm – whether divorced or married. I was stunned. The researcher was surprised at her findings too.

    2. “..he should have to continue to support her.” No. A dad should have to continue to support his children. His ex-wife can get a job and support herself.

    3. Wow. Single father to 3 primary school aged girls for 3, nearly 4 years after my ex ran off with them to the USA for 3 years before splitting up with her new partner and giving custody back to me (in the UK) in 2012. Mother still lives in USA.

      Of course I could assume that most women are as big a >rude word< as my ex was. But I do not, because that is MISOGYNY

      When I see a post as misinformed and self-righteous as the one above I feel compelled to point out this is MISANDRY. If you don't know what it is and you call yourself a feminist I suggest you look it up.

      You know why most fathers stay away? Because they think that it isn't good for their kids to see them constantly fighting with their mother. Because they want to do the RIGHT thing by their children, even if that means them not seeing them again. Because, paying for their exes upkeep yet for little or no child access, frankly rankles – as it would anyone, irrelevant of gender. [Side point I have recently started to get sent child support – a grand total of $150 a month for 3 kids. But I put up with it because I want my daughters to have a relationship with their mother not tinged by money.]

      I think some women are beginning to smell the coffee that in a world of equality one sex cannot be more equal than the other. But there is a heck… a heck of a heck… of a long way to go.

      1. I agree with you completely. I’m a father of three boys and have painstakingly had to move to another state for work. I don’t get to see my boys very often at all. Before I moved I had a verbal agreement with my ex that we would alternate the travel for visitation. This has never happened and now she refuses to to make the trip, so I am forced to put in the extra effort, time, and money to visit my boys. I never complain about this because I just want to see them. Visits are difficult because of the tension between my ex and I. I’ve done everything I can to communicate to her about setting our differences aside at least while our boys are around. This is never the case and it pains me to know my boys live in a state of chaos most of the time. I fear there is nothing I can do to change and have bought into the idea that my only substantial role as their father is the child support I pay (which is $1,584.00 a month). I’m hopeful to see changes made in this area as I welcome more time with my boys. I’m sick and tired of hearing my ex complain about having to leave work to take care of the boys when they are sick, or having to cook for them, or having to clean up after them. Those are “inconviences” I would gladly welcome into my life as it meant the opportunity to hold them everyday and tuck them in at night. I know there are some real screwed up fathers out there but I’m tired of being grouped in to that stereotype every time I talk the child support office or to my judge. I’m thankful that there is discussions like this out there to help improve things. Change is never easy, divorce is never easy, but something needs to be done. As long as the children’s best interest are being kept in the forefront I’m for it.

      2. Emily I think you have a lot of good points. 50/50 custody should be the standard with no financial incentive (why would there be if the kids spend equal time with them/providing for them). If a parent walks out and barley or does not want to be a part of the kids lives, then he/she should be legally and financially responsible. Child support is a HUGE incentive for women/men to take over custody. My father grew me up, by himself, with no child support request ever because at the end of the day I was his responsibility (he was not rich by the way).
        I became a “weekend dad” initially for two daughters and was forced to pay 38% of my actual take home pay (25% of gross). It left me working a part time job on top of a full time job, on top of going back to school to increase my pay/career just to be able to afford rent and food. Sadly my kids became a second priority to this for years, and every weekend became every other weekend for 48 hours, with increases in resentment towards their mother and the court system. My kids parent, actually makes more money than me not working. I guess a lot of people would if they could.
        -Child support should only be, if by choice one parent is not involved significantly with their children (promotes involvement of both parents, limits govt intervention, promotes self accountability by taking away financial incentive)
        -Both parents should have automatic 50/50 custody of their children unless their are legitimate concerns for the welfare of the children.
        -child support should be based on net pay not gross nationwide
        -child support should not accumulate while someone is in prison

  5. A simple solution would be to make parental alienation commercials / social media advertising wide spread so the kids would understand and question the parent who alienates the other parent. if it was known like McDonald commercials people would understand the abuse

    1. I LOVE this idea! Sadly some moms that alienate their children from dad have years to brainwash the kids and its not until they are grown that they realize how messed up their situation was and its on them to make reparations with their dad. Public service announcements would be great to reach these kids.

      1. I too like the idea that everyone should be far more educated on how emotionally, stable co-parenting should look and feel. But, please keep in mind that it’s more likely to come from an emotionally troubled parent or one with a personality disorder, which skews toward men as as the perpetrators. Additionally, as their supply dries up from the former partner, it get redirected on the formerly prized child.

        Which is, not coincidentally, what makes the 50/50 across the board idea so problematic. The only thing current courts are looking for are bruises, it’s impossible for the current system to continue on much longer and blanket 50/50 is not a salve. I read the caveat in the article about abuse, but that comprises so many more couples and relationships than we realize. This will trickle down to even the most loved child.

        Parents with a good (healthy and non-abusive) co-parenting relationship are not in the system…
        There is a Dr. running a test program in the US right now, that hopes to move high conflict cases out of the court room and into an emotional education program. Then perhaps some couples could start to generate progress.

        I realize now, that I’ve addressed more than your comment, and have included the article on the whole.

        1. Thank you, Whitney! There are a TON of PD people out there. I was feeling a little triggered by thi post because I have been thinking of leaving myself as I have a spouse eith a very high chance of suspected PD. Of course, getting a diagnosis is not easy to do. 50/50 in a case like mine would NOT be good. The lack of ability to handle stress without devolving into poor behavior would not be good for my kids to be around. After a few hours of the stress, you can hear him start to “crack.” I think an extra emphasis on situations like this is warranted because there are SOOOO many people out there like this. I would almost wish there was some sort of psych testing for every divorcing parent so that we could weed out the truly disordered.

    2. good idea on commercials as long as perspective is fair and neutral to good healthy co parenting with respect to roles and commitments

    3. Oh, PLEASE! If your kids hate you and don’t want to be around you, there’s a reason why!! Most kids unless they are very young, get it . . . they see and hear things and they know who’s there, who’s not, and can figure things out for themselves. If you are a selfish, nasty a**hole, behave callously toward their mother, don’t invest the time with your children, or other equally narcissistic behavior, then don’t cry “parental alienation” for God’s sake. Kids aren’t stupid, and they don’t fall that easily for somebody else “badmouthing” a good parent. And fyi, the entire “parental alienation” crap has been debunked by both legal and psychological experts — and the sexual deviant pedophilia-supporting nutcase, Richard Gardner, who came up with this BS committed suicide. If your kids don’t want anything to do with you, take a hard look in the mirror and stop & ask yourself WHY!

      1. Not always the case……I know of many adults who have later in life realised their farther was not the a-hole their mother portrayed him to be. I have heard it so many times, one friend openly told me they regret believing everything their mother said because the missed out on a potentially fpgreat relationship with their father
        Adults should behave as adults and not bad mouth the other parent in front of their children, no matter how they feel about that other parent. Bad mouthing the other parent is bad mouthing the child because the do after all have half the DNA of each parent
        Do not underestimate the power of manipulation from one parent

  6. As a divorced mom, I totally support this. I was a stay-at-home mom when we divorced. But you know what I did? I went to school, got a degree, and now make a pretty good living for myself. I dont want to be dependent on his child support money. I’d rather have him invest time.

    On my husband’s side, his ex stayed at home yet she cheated on him. The argument that “she stayed home to raise the kids so he should keep supporting her” is antiquated. And it doesn’t align with “no-fault” divorce.

    This needs to happen and the courts need to stop making assumptions that the stay-at-home mom is a helpless victim who can’t stand on her own.

    1. Well, of course it shouldn’t be about “she stayed at home to raise the kids so he should keep supporting her,” because of course that is illogical. BUT, what is perfectly reasonable and practical is that HE went to school, got his degree, and now earns $X amount of money per year while during this same time his wife remained home caring for the children as a full time CARE GIVER would do, thus she should be compensated for those years she sacrificed her time, her occupation, and her opportunity to continue her own education. Just as in any business arrangement, if one party has been placed in a more advantageous situation at the expense of another, the playing field must be leveled and the party who is in a less fortunate position granted compensation and an opportunity to recover from the loss. That’s not an “assumption that a stay-at-home mom is a helpless victim,” that is addressing the reality of the situation!

  7. As a child of divorce (and as a divorced mom) I believe custody should not be based on the parents desires but what is best for the children. I think it is warmer and have one home is the primary residence. They are not goods to be traded back and forth like possessions or argued about who “gets” the kids.

    1. agreed on primary home-lets be real 50-50 is more about the parents desire than whats best for child. I believe in co-parenting but primary home is more important. And at the risk of sounding like a religious zealous, which I am not, but I am a christian, and an imperfect human, unless the Mom has real relevant issues majority of time Mom is best, yes I said it Mom is best, with few exceptions. I don’t know why we try to change God’s design to the worlds desires of equality. God designed it that the woman gets impregnated and carry and nurture this child for nine months and bring the child in the World. The design is not 50-50, the physical, emotional toll is not 50-50, the effect and consequences to our bodies hormones and everything, most things are not not 50-50 but boom now if we don’t continue with God design of family which is to marry and stay together, raise the family the real co-parent…if we don’t do this Gods way now we have to count on the world to design it… 50-50…what a mess. I regret that I didn’t know better and I can say that me and my kids have suffered though I thank God for Gods Grace and Mercy and forgiveness. Let me stop now. Lets do whats best for kids, healthy families, and healthy parents. Please lets get it right…just maybe we need to follow the creators design…I’m just saying. It is what it is. But I still agree this idea on a case by case matter is a good option

  8. I totally agree! I am dating a man that is divorced and has two boys. He and his ex live only a few miles apart neither pays the other support, they split all cost and parenting time 50/50. It’s really amazing. They are great friends and she has become a great friend to me. I unfortunately am on the other end of the spectrum. My ex chose to move 3 states away and quit his job. Therefore our custody split looks more like 90/10 as he only has our kids a few weeks a year and his support was drastically reduced due to being unemployed. So I can see both sides of the coin. It’s a great idea of 50/50 but sadly it doesn’t work for all situations.

    1. Great perspective … this is a time of transition, and the more families we see like your boyfriend’s, the more all dads will be pressured to do the same. But we need the courts involved first.

      1. I looked at the figures and I find it funny that you didnt bother to read/understand what was eing said. Yes 22% of fathers see their kids more than once a week yet 41% are in contact serverak times a week or more. How could you not make correlation between the two stats? You know nothing and decide to make an assumption, and it is an assumption thats these dads are crappy. You cant comment without knowing the reason why, and you dont

        1. We’re still in conflict about the 59% of dads who live apart from their kids. Why don’t those guys call or email every single day? You say, based on your anecdotal observation, because courts are unfair to the majority of men. I say, based on my anecdotal observation, because the majority of these men choose not to. Which renders them crappy dads in my book.

          1. I think we underestimate the extent of parental alienation that goes on and the impact it has on dads and kids.
            When my partners ex stopped him seeing the children he had a breakdown. He couldn’t face phoning in case he broke down in tears. He didn’t know what to say to them when they asked why he wasn’t seeing them – what do you say without turning it on Mum and messing with their heads even more?
            If we had lost the court case that followed and he had lost regular contact I think that the occasional phone conversation and trips to McDonalds would have been too painful. Try and put yourself in the position if it happened to you.
            I know so many dads that have been separated from their kids and drifted away because seeing them every now and then was more painful than not seeing them at all. We underestimate the agony that millions of men are going through but I believe the high suicide rates in men reflect this issue.

  9. While I like the idea in theory, I just have to laugh at the following phrases:

    “forced fathers to be true co-parents”
    “fathers would be forced to make the hard work-life decisions”
    “force both sexes to participate in the workforce”
    “forced by court or social pressure to parent equally”

    (Little heavy on the use of force, Emma. And why? Because yeah, it would have to be forced!)

    But unfortunately the courts do not do a very good job of enforcement in the area of family law. If one parent does not throw down money to go back into the ring and do battle, non-compliance with the divorce decree has no consequences at all, and barely has any even after a return to court by one parent or another. There are only two major tools at the court’s disposal, monetary sanctions and incarceration. Everyone recognizes that incarceration really doesn’t work in family law, and collecting a monetary sanction, especially across state lines, is a lot more difficult than imposing it. So where is this necessary “forcing” supposed to come from? Assuming your idea were to become the norm tomorrow, and then people do as people do, and one parent or another shirks out of their assumed parenting responsibility? Well, you’re probably back to monetary sanctions, aka child support.

  10. http://lw4sp.org/ Take a look at this website. The majority of new research (and that means within the last 10-20 years) all support shared parenting (whenever possible of course, true cases of domestic violence, for example, would not be in that category). Go to the Resources menu in that website to see the literature.

    I am glad that more and more women are realizing that this imbalance is hurting the kids and themselves, and therefore they are pushing for change. As a man, I know full well that there are many men that do not want or deserve having custody of their children. I can say the same about women. The fact is that in the current system, everything is so tilted against men, that even though they are perfectly willing and able to do their parenting responsibilities they usually don’t get a meaningful share of the parenting time (aka custody), particularly if the moms don’t want to give them any (and they have so many financial incentives to not do that).

    Finally I just want to say that this issue is not really between dads and moms. I have been working with many people (men and women) for some time now to realize that the fight is between parents and (divorce) lawyers. We have been fighting hard to introduce common-sense shared parenting languages into legislation and everyone who sees the bill will tell you that there is nothing wrong with asking the court to start with 50-50 assumption at the beginning of any divorce case, for example, which the court can change at any time if there is any valid reason. Who is the only party that doesn’t think this is a good idea? The Bar. Divorce lawyer associations. 50-50 presumption would significantly reduce the fight in divorce court and no fight = no business for divorce lawyers. Divorce is a 50B (that is billion with a B) business. Do you think they will let it go easily?

    1. The system in North America and the UK favours Fathers, not Mothers.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_Chesler#Mothers_on_Trial:_The_Battle_for_Children_and_Custody_.282011.29

      50/50 as a blanket system will be awesome right after the patriarchy ends. Because, currently 50/50 refers only parenting time, not an equalized system in which both parents equally thrive. Then what is the message to our children? That we’re equal, except where burden, disadvantage and oppression are concerned and then it’s totally OK for women to bear the brunt of the load.

      50/50 parenting is a privilege reserved for the few, like being white, straight, having civil rights etc. and of particular relevance to our conversation having all of these things and being a man.

    2. I’m a divorce lawyer and I would 100% fully support a presumption that custody will be 50/50 at the start of every case. It would then be incumbent upon the parties to demonstrate why that should not be the case (which would allow for situations of DV or lack of willingness on one party or the other to participate at that level). Are there divorce lawyers out there who don’t care and just want your money? Sure. There are scumbags in every profession. But many of us are interested in how to effectively handle cases and this is a constant frustration of mine. The law should be consistent.

  11. I see alot of this in regards to divorce, which I get is where you’re coming from with this, but would this work for unmarried couples? In Ohio common law marriage is not a thing. In most cases the father had already bounced out of the mother’s life. My personal experience child support is completely separate from custody in the state of Ohio, my brother is very clear on this point since that’s his job as a prosecutor. For parents in my situation the father has to file for custodial rights. The only issue i take up is the 50/50, because emotional abuse can be hard to prove but it is a thing and how would this be enforced would it be treated like abandonment? If the other parent doesn’t show up for three months without reason they lose all rights? What if the parents live out of state how would that work then? Also, what about spiritual practices I know that if my child’s father ever filed for custody he would fight me tooth and nail about taking her on pagan holidays, because he thinks the child should be raised under a “normal” religion. And if it’s automatically assumed 50/50 the neglectful parent tends to come and go at will. How would this be addressed during the transition? And while i agree don’t pay alimony (common in Denmark and a few other European countries) i think if you’re going to have 50/50 custody you should have both parents pay child support into an escrow account similar to a health savings account or dependent care reimbursement account. Where the funds drawn are only clearly documented use for necessities for the child i.e: school uniforms, doctor appointments, special foods of the child is on a medically prescribed diet, etc., etc. I know you say change the law change societal norms, but I’m of the belief that society makes the rules not the other way around the civil rights movement wouldn’t have happened if society didn’t make it so. I think that society needs to change before the laws do. And the best way to do that is by not doing these public service announcements that won’t do anything, but give dead beat parents an excuse to say that my child’s custodial parent is holding my child hostage and brain washing my child. But by starting a grass roots movement of the importance of breaking down the billion dollar divorce industry. Not by making divorce harder as someone suggested, but by making these issues very very public and being loud. Very very loud. Because someone pointed this out very accurately nothings changing because there’s too much money being made and not enough people screaming about it.

  12. Our society has no infrastructure of care — no paid maternity leave, affordable child care, etc. Many families simply can’t afford the cost of childcare. For wealthier families, two incomes push you into a higher tax bracket. That combined with the very high cost of high-quality childcare can make working more expensive than staying home with young children. I understand that might be a short-term price worth paying for a long-term career but it seems insane to have two parents working very demanding jobs for no extra money. At the same time, family life is being exchanged for high stress and the kids are being putting on the back burner. If families are using all their vacation days (if they are lucky enough to have them) for sick children, that is the end of any semblance of family life/time. I think it is a chicken/egg dilemma. Do we force the change and let a generation of families/children pay the price in the hopes of long-term structural change of the next generation, or do we do what is best for our families now and work toward a change that may or may not come. Until we have high-quality, affordable childcare, paid parental leave, paid family leave, a change in the tax code that doest penalize a second wage earner, etc. it will be very hard for many families to make this work.

    1. Very excellent points. “Do we force the change and let a generation of families/children pay the price in the hopes of long-term structural change of the next generation,”= yes – that is policy-makers’ responsibility to plan for the long-term, while of course individuals will rightly push back … but this is how social change happens.

      1. What does a family do if a partner loses his/her job and needs to relocate for work? Should the parents live separately so that neither partner has to jeopardize his/her own career? Where do the children live? Who raises them?

        1. What do (responsible) dads do now when they lose their job? The child support (often beyond reasonable) will still have to be legally paid. Otherwise, he would risk being thrown in jail (and forever lose a career because he is now a criminal). He has to go to the court, pay the attorney, pay the court, to request change. In an intact family, the whole family suffer, and make do, if the breadwinner loses their job. In divorced case, only the breadwinner has to suffer. It is beyond ridiculous.

  13. While I certainly agree that the solution you proposed would work for some families, I take issue with the idea that it should be the default. Although I recognize that my situation is definitely NOT the norm, I was during our marriage, and continue to be after our separation, the only meaningful income for the family. I have a fantastic job with great pay, that I worked very hard to get and that requires lots of late nights after the kids go to bed. I work really hard. However, my ex (by choice! I’ve offered more time, recognizing that a relationship with dad is important) falls into the “see them once a week” category. I have nonetheless built a stable, loving, down-right magical home for my babies, and i do not see how they would thrive if forced into a 50-50 arrangement. My ex, while he loves the kids very much, is not a family man, and spends more time buried in his phone than down on the floor playing when with the kids. He just doesn’t have it in him. I, on the other hand, value my role as mommy above all else – even if it requires me to put things into auto pilot at work for a few years and focus more time on family. My kids are my life. To try to fit my family into the 50-50 box to prove a point/further a cause would be destructive and inappropriate for me, my ex and our kids.

    1. This is the main confusion on this issue, which has been deftly used by the opponents of this cause (namely the divorce lawyers) to deceive the public. No one, NO ONE, from the proponent side of this shared parenting issue is asking the 50-50 arrangement to be the default arrangement. Take a look at this bill proposed in my state for example: https://legiscan.com/MD/text/HB1386/id/1338124 It simply states that in determining the custody issue, there is a PRESUMPTION that joint custody, with approximately equal time, is in the best interest of the children (which I hope you would agree would be a fair starting point). THEN, the bill lists a whole list of factors, the same factors that are currently used, that the court could use to deviate from this arrangement. So the bill does NOT take anything from the court, it simply sets the starting point. Instead of 100-0 mindset that is currently being used by the court (Divorce case? Who is the best parent here? I’ll give the kids to her/him), the whole thing simply asks that the court starts by equal assumption (I am going to assume that both mother and father are fit and willing to be parent until you show me otherwise). It is called innocent until proven guilty. Not guilty (of being a dad) until proven innocent (after bankrupting all your resources) that is being used now.

      1. Thanks for this, David.

        Educate me here … how is your understanding of the law different from “default 50-50” ?

        Equal= half, yes? Default=starting point, correct?

        1. Yes, I confused the terms. I was answering the question, where the term “default” seems to have been used to mean “automatically given” or even “mandatory”. Nobody is pushing to give 50-50 to EVERY divorce case. We know full well that there are men, AND women, who do not deserve any custody time. So again, NOBODY is trying to create a law that will force 50-50, that will make 50-50 mandatory, in every case. What we want is 50-50 as a starting point. The court will still have all the final authority to change this to anything the court wants. This will give many dads, the good ones who want to be with their children (and there are many out there), a fighting chance to get a meaningful level of custody. Currently, even if you have been an exemplary dad, it is such a long hard expensive legal fight to go from 0 to 50.

          Shared parenting laws passed the Florida House and Senate recently. By a large margin. The the Florida Bar realized that it will lose its shirt if this bill becomes law. They put all their weight toward the Governor, who then vetoed the bill.

          http://floridapolitics.com/archives/207143-rick-scott-vetoes-contentious-alimony-bill

          http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202753914575/6-Florida-Bar-Sections-Lobbying-in-Tallahassee?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=ALL&slreturn=20160406145248

    2. Unless there is abuse, there is no reason the kids shouldn’t be with their dad half the time. I agree that a dad who pays more attention to his phone than his kids is not ideal, but that is the dad the kids get. Life isn’t perfect.

      1. Wow. I have to call BS on that point, Emma. I can think, off-hand, of more than one reason my children shouldn’t be with their dad half the time, the most important being: 1. if my ex is required to spend more time with his kids than he wants, it will not be quality time, and my kids won’t look forward to dad time. If he gets to spend the amount of time with them that he wants, it is more likely to be time enjoyed by kids and dad alike; 2. because our economic situation is flip-flopped from the norm, with a female breadwinner, 50-50% custody would require me to pay child support, which effectively reverses the scenario you’re concerned about (not to mention the fact that it would require me to totally disrupt my kids’ current living situation, downsizing into a too-small apartment (probably in a crappy neighborhood), to fund two households); and 3. I am a great parent, and make the most of every minute I am privileged to spend with my children (all the while singing dad’s praises and speaking not a single ill word about him). Because of this, and the stable, routine, home environment I’ve worked so hard to provide, I have two awesome, well adjusted kids (why the heck would I upset the apple cart?!).

        I agree with some of your points – yes, women should have the opportunity to work outside of the home. Yes, dads should be given the opportunity to build (or maintain) an awesome relationship with their kids. However, speaking in absolutes on this subject is just silly when every family’s situation is so different.

  14. If the father wants 50/50 custody I say hell yeah. Is it hard to be away from my child those days. Yes. But I gotta pull my big girl panties up and deal with it. I always kept in my mind through the worst feelings towards my ex that my daughter deserves to have an equal relationship with her father. So I rose above my ferlings. Child support was a huge wedge between my daughters father and myself. But I needed it. It was either take the child support or work a second job and not see my daughter as much on my custody days. No way!! Wish I didn’t have to be dependent on it. Hoping one day I won’t need it. Actively looking for better paying jobs. But It closed the pay difference. Court looks at the parents as a whole for support for the child together or not. In the end I lowered it as much as I could to salvage our coparenting relationship for our daughter.
    I agree with the poster that says men generally make more. Until there’s more equality in pay. Child support is there to close the gap as a necessity. But there are women that take advantage of the situation. Financially destroying good men.
    My experience with Family Court was that they encourage 50/50 split custody. I guess it depends on the judges views. So it’s in transition.

    1. Jessica- I really appreciate your note. You get it. You’re an example of a woman who is in this grey area of transition. You’re taking one for the team and I love you for it.

  15. Interesting perspective to consider and should be on the table but I don’t agree with it being a default decision. I think these matters should still be case by case because there is no one size fit all to this family challenge. For example for reasons to long and personal to fully disclose it would not work in my situation due to the character and proven track record of reckless inconsistent and dysfunctional parenting of my kids father, it would be detrimental to my kids though I work hard to keep him in their life. I do recognize the world has changed and I hope that today’s young women will learn from mistakes in choosing a man like I did, and that today’s young men will learn from our mistakes, both mother and fathers as well and commit to being an involved healthy father and co-parent. Hopefully this option will be a fit for more separated families and hopefully we will make better choices to lessen the number of separated aka broken families. We all would be better off.,

  16. If we are talking big picture, let’s get real. We are selfish, greedy and prideful because we have allowed childhood to be stripped to bare. Just so that we can buy with our time and money a sense of importance.
    Day care. The answer for every stupid adult decision for the last three decades.
    One nice way to build a sense of life accomplishment is by actually raising your own children.
    The double-parent economy is a slow train-wreck. Few benifit, and smallest of our country are sacrificed. Don’t tell me how much you give them. Tell me what you gave up for them. Tell me how you stood up for a parent at home and outside play time, and family time.
    Get everyone to pitch in equally, moms, dads, and we are still scrambling to live.
    Why? For What?

  17. This is the arrangement I have had with my 6 y/o daughter’s father. The only difference is he is paying for private school–his choice–in lieu of child support. We are lucky in that we were older parents (40 & 53) when she was born, had completely finished with our educations, and established in our careers–he is an attorney, I work in government IT. While we had a turbulent and very unhappy family life together, he is an attentive father who wants to spend time with her. When they are together, I can enrich my life in ways that I couldn’t when we were together. Granted there were several major life changes: after may years of homeownership, I had to sell our marital home to pay for my legal bills and I had to drastically downsize into a small apartment in a city with a rapidly rising cost of living. My finances are in a bad state and my credit is terrible so I’ll have to stay where I am for the time being, but these are choices I don’t regret, and, who knows what the future will bring. Had I not agreed to 50/50, we would probably still be in court fighting it out rather than getting on with our lives.

  18. Emma,
    While what you said about 50/50 sounds good on paper to people like yourself or the court system. It is a joke…I am living this joke daily and so is my daughter. 1. It does not make your pay gap better for you as a Mom because the father is only going to pay for what they are instructed to. 2. My ex will not pay for anything but what the papers instruct him too. My daughter goes to private school and he won’t even buy her decent clothes or shoes for school yet buys himself designer clothes and shoes constantly. This 50/50 is NOT going to make a man be a better father just because you give them equal time. That is ridiculous. Anyone that believes that….obviously does NOT deal with an extremely difficult ex spouse. Fathers will become a better father because they WANT to be. My daughter has cried for the last 5 years wanting to stay with me more and my ex always tells her no if she asks to come with me. He uses this 50/50 as a weapon to keep her from me and she and I both hate it. Her dad never wants to pay for any extra fees at school or things like frozen yogurt day or anything extra. I spend lots of my money on her which I am glad to do and it is my responsibility and also on things that he should be doing for her but he won’t. I pay all of her extracurriculars because he refuses to help with that either. You can’t make someone be a good father by giving them 50/50…..that doesn’t make sense at all. My ex plainly didn’t want to pay any child support and this is why he fought me in court for over 3 years…..it wasn’t about the extra time for him and I have lots of friends who have had the same issues with their visitation plans. Yet my friend’s who are still on standard visitation with every other weekend and a night I the off week are FAR better off than me because they get child support ( and always have money while I constantly struggle to even make ends meet) and their children are happy because they get to be with their mom’s a lot more…..and their dad’s don’t want to be involved much anyway.

    1. I share Lexi’s concern. I have 50/50 custody, and neither of us pay support to the other. The kids’s dad loves his kids, but can’t get himself together to do simple shit like take his kids to soccer practice, help them with their homework (they are going enough that they really need adult help), and make sure they get to school on time. Sure, these are not matters of life or death, but when my kids are failing at school every other week because they are at his house, I can’t help but question if this is really best for them.

    2. Noticed Emma never replied. Don’t like to hear cases that don’t support her believes. I am as well divorced from an abusive husband and signed a 50/50 parenting plan just to get away. Dad only wanted more time to not have to pay child support. Live in a low income apartment that stinks, there is barely food on the table, sends son to school in dirty clothes with holes in them, wont pay for hair cuts or any extracurricular activities. I told him I will pick up the tab for them if he only would show up and bring our son to these activities. He wont even do that. I had coaches asking ME where he was last week why didn’t he showed up. Emma has no clue how hard is to explain to a child that after a week spent lingering around with dad non he has to go to day care that mom could work. And how much harder it is to find a day care that would except him on a schedule like that. Most of them wont a full month’s fee even your child is able to attend two weeks out of that month. How do we expect them to build meaningful relationships or participate in activities with a schedule like that? Not mentioning in four years from our divorce he fell from an healthy 80th percentile in his weight to 40 percentile at his last dentist check up had 12 cavities. When I tried to go back to court to get full custody non of these concerns were valid enough for the lawyer to have the plan amended.

  19. As someone who left a relationship that unexpectedly became abusive I find this offensive and frightening. Abuse can be damn hard to prove. A default like this could have negative effects for people who want to leave abusive situations. They may feel the have no way out if they’re trapped with no support in a 50/50 split. This position comes from a lack of understanding of what the realty is for many who spend months, years trapped–it’s hard to leave. We don’t need laws making it even harder. I haven’t even filed for divorce yet as the courts will require some kind of visitation even though my ex has initiated zero contact with my child since we left a couple years ago. He is not healthy and it’s not safe to leave my child in his care, but since it’s my word vs. his–I can’t really “prove” it in court.

    1. I am sorry to hear about your situation. There are many cases of domestic abuse out there (by men AND women). But it should also be said that there are many cases out there where one parent deliberately wrongly accused the other parent of domestic violence simply to gain the upper hand in custody disputes. The law should protect DV victims but it should also protect victims of wrongful DV accusations. The 50-50 starting point provides that.

  20. A good article and theory. It could of been penned better in relation to using the words ” force Fathers to” believe me enough of us are in favor of shared parenting and financial obligation in relation to family law matters. This would get rid of both the man who thinks he can buy his way through parenthood and the Trophy wife/Partner whom gleefully collects her Maintenance payments before joining the girls down the beauty parlor.

  21. This is definitely an interesting article a lot of great points in the comments! While I do think a 50/50 custody arrangement should be encouraged where 2 parents both want it and are capable parents, there are some downsides. I have such an arrangement and sometimes it is just too much shuffling of the kids back and forth. While my kids are used to it, I can see the effects if we have a week where there is even more shuffling than normal due to changes in our schedules (family parties, holidays, work commitments, etc.). I also think it requires the parents to live in fairly close proximity and would be tough to do if the parents did not. It also requires flexibility because not everything in our life that we want our kids to be at fits neatly in the days we have our kids and not everything work-related or personal fits neatly in the days we do not have our kids. I also find that even though my situation is technically 50/50, I wind up handling a lot more of the responsibilities. I’m the one who is scheduling the doctors’ visits, dentist visits, researching summer camps, etc. If I don’t do it (and I’ve tried), it just doesn’t get done.

    However, I don’t necessarily agree that child support should automatically be nothing if it’s 50/50. I think it’s more complex than that and needs to be looked at on an individual basis. Prior to having kids and getting divorced, my ex and I both worked in high pressured jobs with long hours. After my second child was born, we decided that I would work a reduced (80%) schedule. I never call it PT because I worked hours more akin to a normal FT job, but I was “off” one day a week. I loved having that day with them and it was beneficial to all. We continued that arrangement for about 2 years even after we divorced. I then transitioned to a different job that while FT, has much more flexibility and a better work-life balance.

    As part of my agreement, I do receive a small amount of child support each month. It’s a small amount so I am not even close to being financially dependent on my ex. However, it helped make up for my reduction in salary when I worked a reduced schedule (which both ex and I did not have to pay for child care on the one day a week that I was home) and even in my current job. I make a decent salary, but I have a lot more flexibility. I am usually the one who is able to arrange my schedule if the nanny is out or one of my kids is home sick and needs one of us.

    So, I think it may be appropriate for child support to be paid in a situation where custody is technically 50/50, but there is a large disparity in income. For example, where one parent makes significantly more, it can make it difficult for the lower income parents to live closer to the higher income parents. It also can limit the childcare options. In my case, we need a nanny because of ex’s hours. We could never use a traditional daycare center. Child support can help make the overall arrangement easier for both parents. I also think it’s often that more responsibility falls on one of the parents regardless of the custody arrangement. And while it’s easy to say that the lower income parents has the same opportunities to earn more money, there are some professions that while they are great professions with excellent benefits, there always is going to be a ceiling on the salary (e.g., teacher, police officer, firefighter).

  22. I love it!!

    The other benefit would be less domestic violence. DV is usually about control. I believe that some men feel trapped inside horrible marriages and it they leave they lose their house, their kids, and ongoing income.

    This translates to a total lack of control over their lives. Which leads to them trying to control through violence.

    If they were guaranteed to get 50/50 custody and could go build another life, I’m sure many men would jump at the chance and move on without any violence. http://domesticviolenceresearch.org/pages/12_page_findings.htm

    Same for women who perpetrate 30% to 70% of violence (depending on the study). They would have a clean break.

  23. Thank you so much for this insightful and we’ll articulated post. I probably came at it from an alternate point of view than most of your readers, but you were echoing and expanding on a discussion I’ve tried to have with fellow mom’s countless times.

    My husband is a stay at home dad, and I’m the only wage earner in our family. He is an amazing caregiver to our twin girls, and he also does about %90 of the cooking and housework. One of my pet peeves is when my female friends moan about how lucky I am that my husband is so amazing, but then they turn around and start henpecking or outright criticising their partner. You want an equal partnership? Shut the hell up and stop sending him the message that he’s less competent than you. Oh, he might put the baby’s diaper on backwards? Great, he can bathe and rediaper the pee-covered baby. He won’t make that mistake twice. Parents don’t have a chance to gain competency unless they’re forced to deal with the consequences of their mistakes, and that doesn’t happen when mom rolls her eyes and steps in to fix daddy’s mistake.

    I remember a friend explaining (fairly) that “I read the books, I develop the strategies and routines. This is where I’m pouring my energy – this is my area of expertise right now”. I understand what she meant…we all want to feel competent. But my answer is – you only have so much energy. If you are holding so tightly to your superiority as a parent and homemaker, you are missing the chance to reach out for anything else.

    My favourite quote from this article:
    “Just because the child lived in your uterus does not mean you get more say in how they are raised. Men will never step into their full father potential if we keep assuming they are the inferior parent.”

    I completely disagree with the people who claim that this is a sexist article that’s all about forcing deadbeat dads to step up. My take on a first reading was “let’s assume we’re equally capable”.

    Women are so quick to bemoan men’s lack of parenting, but so unwilling to acknowledge that they were the ones who sowed the seeds. Just picture a family gathering with a new baby. The women are all competing over who gets to cuddle and soothe the little angel (of course, grandma tends to get first dibs, but she’ll usually deign to share for short periods). God forbid someone hand that cutie pie to a man. But if anyone does, have no fear, the second that baby so much as coughs, a woman will offer to take it from him. We had twins, so this was less of an issue, since we always had a spare kicking around, but it still happened all the time.

    One of my proudest moments as a daughter was when my father was holding my fussy newborn, and my mother offered to trade him for the calm twin. He buried the baby into his chest, looked her in the eyes and said “I am perfectly fine. There is nothing that you can do for our granddaughter that I can’t”. I almost broke into applause.

    If that attitude was a cultural norm, the wage gap would finally start to improve.

    Kudos to you for encouraging both men and women to examine their blind spots, and to expect more from themselves and from each other. This kind of thinking will change the world.

    Respectfully,
    Diana Dawe, OCT
    Ontario, Canada

  24. I fight to see my child and my ex says no I don’t see no reason for it and I don’t get my child on my schedule weekend cause she say no

  25. Choosing to be a SAHM is no more a “wrong decision” than obtaining a degree for a career that becomes obsolete due to technological advances, outsourcing and insourcing. Honestly, have you read about the coming (or should I say current) robot revolution? Do you have any idea how many jobs are about to be lost to these technologies? And we’re not just talking blue collar jobs- every sector will be affected. Did you know that even journalists are being replaced? There is now software that can analyze data and churn out full page reports. It probably won’t be long until you have to go back to school, probably for repairing robots, because you “made the wrong decision”.

    Our society is completely doomed, mostly due to cheerleaders of capitalism like yourself. A woman’s place is in the home, but our government has been able to trick us into believing slaving away at work all day is “independence”. Silly feminists bought their campaign hook, line and sinker.

    I could say more, but I know it was pointless writing this much.

  26. I’ m a single mom of a 7 year old son. I co-parent with his dad, usually 4 nights a week our son is with me, and 3 with his dad. We talk about his upbringing a lot, discuss rules, bedtimes and share confirmation. I trusted him with our son before we split up, there is no reason to change that opinion. He did not have to fight me for it, nor did I have to force him.
    We share the cost of raising him and even use our old joint bankaccount, to wich both of us have equal acces. Yes, this requires good communication. But it is up to us to raise our son well, so setting a good example is important to us both.
    I do agree that you need to trust your ex around children and both parents should keep any personal resentment out of parenting.
    I hope I can inspire people to at least seriously consider this option.

  27. 50/50 only works where BOTH parents have the best interest of the children at heart. It’s easy to say 50/50 should be the starting point, but it really takes into consideration the best interest of the parents, not the children. I was separated from my ex husband for almost 3 years BEFORE filing for divorce. It has been over 5 years now. He never arranged to see his children more than every other weekend, 1 week a year vacation and many times missed even calling the kids for a week at a time. I had to call his parents who he lives with to jack him up. I had to enforce child support. 50/50 doesn’t make better parents…..he had lots of time to show interest in the kids, and he didn’t. So I filed and won sole custody and he has visitation and pays child support. He didn’t even fight for custody. I do not badmouth him to his children, even though the reason we split is that he was cheating for most of our marriage and even used the children to cheat. I never told them of the cheating even though he is still with the OW because I felt it would really hurt my kids. I kept the marital home to give the kids a stable environment and even transported the kids back and forth from visitation solely for 3 years until we had an agreement saying we had to split the time. My reasoning is that I have to do what is best for the kids…not him. I want them to have a relationship with their father, and they will figure out on their own that their father is a selfish brat.

    I do recognize that there are situations where 50/50 works and where things are more amicable, and for those situations, I say go for it….this is not one of them.

  28. While I appreciate your opinion, I think this is a case by case judgment and not something you can cast a wide net over with one definition of how things should be done. In a perfect world your reasoning sounds great, but let’s not forget that not every mom and dad are perfect although we would all like to be. Notice I said moms and dads not just one sided. Please try to put a wider view on your statements, there are cases of abuse by the father, do you think then there should be 50/50? What about the mothers who leave their children to starve while they go out to party? 50/50 you say? My point is, you are choosing a solution that doesn’t suite everyone. The better statement would be work with the other parent through mediation to decide what is best for the child. You brought the little angel into the world, work together to grow a decent human being. If you did not want to dedicate your life to that child then be responsible and forgo having any.

    1. I addressed this: “this presumed, equal and fair arrangement relieves courts of the endless bickering and petitions that distract from extreme cases — like actual abuse and neglect — for which deviation from this rule would be appropriate.”

  29. This is interesting. Custody of my son started out at 50/50. My ex (never married) girlfriend refused to work after we split. She was awarded child support. Now that I have sole legal and sole physical custody of my son, I receive no compensation at all. I was awarded sole everything when she had a mental incident. It have been over 16 months since I was granted custody and she hasn’t paid a single cent toward out son. We have been in and out of court 3 times since and the Master would not address child support. There is so much of a double standard in the system, it’s shameful. I was actually told, in court, that I needed to get a part-time job to support my other 2 children because my ex-wife stated I could be making so much more money than I was. We have shared custody of those 2 and I still pay everything the “xourt” desired I should pay. Yet nothing for my youngest that I support completely. I still pay support for my other 2 children. The mother of my youngest will not even offer to help. We have another court date in February to discuss custody. I do not believe she will get the 50/50 she wants due to her instabuility. So, without her having a job and mentally unstable, I will likely be paying her support come February and custody would remain the same. Your article was woman biased. There are more fathers out here that do the right thing for their children. Some over and beyond. If the roles were reversed, and I were the woman, I would have sole custody of my son with supervised visitation for the father, every other weekend. And the father would be paying some insane amount of support. Where is the equality of it all???

  30. No offense, but this blog article is crap. Every situation is different. In my state, 50/50 custody is the starting point in court. This tremendously hurts children when the parents live far from each other, are high-conflict, and when abuse is involved. Regarding child support, until the pay gap is truly equalized, child support will be necessary. For women, like me, who gave up their careers to focus on building a family – with husbands who promoted that structure, we lose out if there is no child support after divorce. If men know they can have children and get them 50% of the time with no child support after divorce, they may take advantage of women more than they already do. And abused women (like myself) will be afraid to divorce since they know they’ll not only lose their kids, but also be even more financially harmed.

    Moving forward, women will have to decide to put themselves and their careers first. No compromises for men. The roles and incomes within the marriage must be equal if they will be equal outside of the marriage. So many men think they are father of the year, but that’s because the standards for fathers are so low. If a man is seen changing a diaper, doing a child’s hair, or taking them to a doctor’s appointment, they are applauded. But women, not so much. If we work outside the home and can’t do these things, we’re stereotyped and shamed. Men who don’t want to pay child support are deadbeat, in my eyes. Those who have children with a woman and leave her, then look down on her for not making as much money as they do, are trifling. Many men also quickly remarry or date, finding a substitute to take care of the children when they are “with them.” It’s all very crazy and unfair and the children ultimately lose. Blanket laws regarding child support and custody only hurt women and children. Each situation should be evaluated. Otherwise, more smart women will not choose to have children “naturally” at all, affording sperm banks. The family structure as we know it will become antiquated and marriage will be avoided. Bad, bad, article.

  31. It pretty much seems to me that divorce is little more than a change of personal style these days. Then, oh, this new style was too contemperary, I’ll try a different one.
    Maybe we should go back to being real people who are just a little more far sighted instead of throwing the whole family under the buss just to see if there is greener grass on the other side of the fence. It’s like a person is looked down on for not having the more happiness for me right now attitude.

  32. While I agree with the basic argument and definitely, with the benefits of 50/50 custody, I think child support is a highly individual matter. I share 50/50 custody with my spouse. I also receive child support. I work full-time. I am not lazy and I am not being held back. But, for 10 years I sacrificed so he could get ahead in his career – paid for his schooling, paid for our mortgage, etc. I make significantly less than he does and we separated when I was pregnant due to his infidelity. As a teacher, my ability to “just make more” is limited. I feel like your argument for no child support doesn’t fully take into account the many varying circumstances couples face as they divorce and years, or decades, or financial and other support to one spouse is something that should be considered. While we all enter into marriage knowing “the risk” we surely wouldn’t make the kind of sacrifices many of us do if we thought we would one day be left.

  33. Speaking from a law standpoint, asking for no child support isn’t really an option in Utah. Parties can’t waive child support. I suppose it’s possible, but not without some other agreements on the two parties’ incomes.

    I think 50/50 custody is a great goal for parents to share. Typically they share all other things equally, why not share custody of the children? I disagree with the motivation here though. I think children benefit most from 50/50 custody when both parents are invested in raising their children, not looking for an arrangement that allows them equally the most time away from their children. In that case, they may be better off primarily with the parent who is most invested in their welfare.

    1. People can work around that … in NY where I live, my ex (the non-custodial parent), is required to pay the minimum $25/month child support, which he auto-pays between our checking account. since we agreed he’d not pay any support, I just refund that sum.

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