Many people assume that both parents have rights to equal time with their kids should they divorce or separate. This is mostly false. In the majority of cases, kids spend the majority of time with the mom, and dads have visits with their children.

Quick summary:

There are 60 peer-reviewed studies (and counting!) that find that shared parenting is best for children in separated and divorced families. Kids who share time between both parents' homes approximately equally have better outcomes related to:

  • Academic achievement
  • Drug, alcohol and cigarette use
  • Mental and physical health
  • Less early sexual activity and teen pregnancy
  • Higher employment and earnings later in life
  • Greater likelihood of family stability in their own adulthoods
  • Better relationships with parents, step-parents and grandparents.

These outcomes were true even in cases where there is high conflict between the parents, or one is richer than the other.

Why are the outcomes so dramatically better for kids with equal parenting time, when compared with minimum time with the non-custodial parent (dad)?

  • When parenting time is presumed equal, dads are less likely to feel marginalized and drop out of kids' lives.
  • Boys and girls both benefit from bonding and time with their dads.
  • When kids don't see their dad, that creates a sense of abandonment and general anxiety.
  • Parents who share parenting time have less to fight over, and there is less conflict between parents — which benefits everyone.
  • Dads who are more involved are more likely to pay child support and/or contribute financially.
  • Kids who have relationships with both parents benefit from an extended network of family, grandparents, friends and neighbors.

Benefits to women, men and gender equality when parenting time is shared 50/50:

  • Less bickering over percentage times, and defaulting to 50/50 time, means less time, energy and money spent on lawyers and court filings.
  • When parents share parenting time, moms are freer to build careers and earn more — which benefits children, mothers, gender equality and co-parenting relationships. [Coming Oct., 2020: Survey of 2,300 single moms that found that the more equality a mom has in her co-parenting, the more she earns.]
  • Divorced men who are legally separated from their children are found to be more likely to suffer depression and attempt suicide.
  • Divorced dads statistically are eight-times more likely to commit suicide than divorced women, and this is especially so for men who have been legally removed or marginalized in their kids' lives.
  • 50/50 parenting means both parents now have equal rights and equal responsibility for child-rearing — exactly what gender equality activists dream of!

My personal story of equally shared parenting

After one meeting with my ex and our lawyers to negotiate the custody agreement of our divorce, I went home, busted out the calculator, and cried.

I freaked out at the idea of being away from my kids for extended hours or days, and I need to know how many hours each week I would spend with my son and daughter under various arrangements.

How many hours they would be sleeping, in daycare and with their dad?

How many minutes each week would they be mine? When we separated, I was pregnant and my daughter was not quite 2.

I subscribed to many tenets of attachment parenting.

I bought into the cultural message that children should be with their mother, and,

A woman's identity is tied to her motherhood.

My identity was tied to being a mom.

Plus, I was used to being with my tiny children the vast majority of the time, running errands with one or the other strapped to my chest, their tiny bodies cozied up to mine in bed, the little one would nurse at least a year like his sister.

Anything less than that seemed devastating. They needed me so, so much, I thought. And I needed them.

Fast-forward and there were years my ex would say he's skipping a visit for reasons well within his control (a party, volunteer work, a last-minute weekend trip to California), and I would lose my goddamned mind. I'd get crazy-angry at his cavalier approach to parenting and how that affects the kids. I'd steam and stew at how much he took me for granted, and had the freedom to do what he pleased without worry about child care.

I also resent that I don't get my scheduled kid-free time. Those hours are a precious commodity I fully utilize to nurture friendships, date, work, exercise and relax. When the kids come home Sunday evening from their weekly overnight, we are all so happy to see each other and I can feel in my whole body how much more energy I have for them.

Never in a bazillion years would I have imagined I'd feel like that.

Fast-forward, and today, after a long campaign, my kids share equal parenting time with their dad and me, alternating weeks, holidays and vacation time at each parents' home.

Today, I am committed to equally shared parenting as a presumption for separated and divorced families. Research finds this is what is best for children, women and men — as well as what is critical for gender equality.

Child custody types: Which custody arrangement is best?

There are two parts of child care when it comes to the legal separation of parents in divorce or family court:

Legal custody, refers to the legal rights a parent has to decision-making rights for major issues, including education (which school the child attends), religion, and medical decisions.

Visitation, or time-sharing, or residential custody are all terms that refer to the amount of time the children spend with each parent. Children live with parents who have “primary physical custody.”

These two elements can be combined into a number of parenting arrangements:

  • Sole custody: One parent has both physical and legal custody of the children. The other parent may have visitation rights, but cannot make decisions outside of the time spent with the child.
  • Joint legal custody: Both parents have equal say in decisions that impact the child. Major dispute between parents with joint legal custody, are either settled in courts, through lawyers or mediators, or, if the custody agreement stipulates, the parent who has primary residential timesharing makes the final decision.
  • Joint physical custody: When parents share approximately equal time with both parents. This is also called 50/50 parenting, shared parenting, equal time-sharing, equal care, and equal co-parenting.

What is shared parenting?

Often called “joint physical custody,” or “50-50 custody,” or “equal time sharing,” courts generally consider at least 35 percent of the time spent with one or the other to be equitably shared time, for the sake of being reasonable and managing the logistics of everyday life.

Shared legal custody has been common for decades, and this means that both parents have joint legal decision making powers when it comes to medical care, education, religion and where the children will live.

The most common child time-sharing arrangement has been: Children reside with the mother, every-other-weekend and one weeknight with the father, and the father pays child support.

As research has found this time split to be detrimental to the children's well being, there has been a culture and legal shift towards equally shared parenting.

In Kentucky and other states leading the way on this front, the presumption is that both parents are fit, and therefore granted equal access to their children. The onus is on one or the other parent to show cause to minimize time with the children, such as in cases of addiction, severe mental health or abuse. Similar laws are commonplace throughout the world, but not the United States.

Terry Brennan, co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, which is leading this cause, said that it is not a tough campaign to convince legislators to support shared parenting bills — but that state bar associations consistently lead opposition to these laws.

“Research finds that this is a bipartisan issue, with both Democrats and Republicans supporting it equally, as well as both men and women.”

– Terry Brennan

Ginger Gentile, activist and filmmaker of Erasing Familywhich explores the epidemic issue of parental alienation, which is closely related to a lack of shared parenting, said that in her research of the leading experts on divorced families, she struggled to find any voices that opposed shared parenting.

Learn more: Parental alienation: A call to change parenting culture — and law

What is a good 50/50 custody schedule for shared parenting?

As long as kids spend approximately equal time with both parents, that the children benefit from bonding with both parents, a deep and larger network of loving friends and family, and the security of knowing that both their parents love and want them.

The most elegant 50/50 schedule is one that requires the least amount of back-and-forth for the kids, fewer interactions between the parents, and less chaos all around:

One parent drops kids off at school on a Friday, kids go one with second parent after school on Friday. Repeat the next week.

For kids younger than 4, parents often like to have shorter periods between hand-offs. Common arrangements include:

  • The 3-4-4-3 schedule in which the child spends 3 days with one parent, then 4 days with the other parent. Then it switches, and the child spends 4 days with the first parent, followed by 3 days with the other parent.
  • The 2-2-5-5 schedule has your child spend 2 days with each parent and then 5 days with each parent.
  • Two weeks on, two weeks off.

Does shared parenting work? Research-based reasons shared parenting is best for kids

Wake Forest professor and shared parenting expert Linda Nielsen crunched the data of 60 studies and found that absent situations in which children needed protection from an abusive or negligent parent even before their parents separated—children in shared-parenting families had better outcomes than children in sole physical custody families.

This includes high-conflict divorces in which the fighting continues long-term. The measures of well-being included:

  • Diminished sense of physical and emotional security (children consistently report feeling abandoned when their fathers are not involved in their lives)
  • Behavioral and social problems, including with friendships
  • Poor academic performance. 71% of high school dropouts are fatherless
  • High crime, as 85% of youth in prison have an absent father
  • Fatherless children are more likely to have sex before age 16, not use contraception during first intercourse, and become teenage parents, and transmit STDs.
  • More likely to use and abuse alcohol and other drugs.
  • 90% of runaway kids have an absent father.
  • Mental health disorders (father absent children are consistently overrepresented on a wide range of mental health problems, particularly anxietydepression and suicide)
  • As adults, fatherless children are more likely to experience unemployment, have low incomes, remain on social assistance, and experience homelessness)
  • Poor future relationships (father absent children tend to enter partnerships earlier, are more likely to divorce or dissolve their cohabiting unions, and are more likely to have children outside marriage or outside any partnership)
  • Higher mortality rates (fatherless children are more likely to die as children, and live an average of four years less over the life span)

Shared parenting may not be a fit for families where one parent struggles with addiction, there is a history of violence or abuse, or severe mental illness. However, many of these families can successfully parent equally after a period of healing.

From an article in Psychology, Public Policy and Law:

“The best research currently available suggests that the quality of the parent-child relationship is more closely linked than parental conflict or the quality of the co-parenting relationship to children’s outcomes, with the exception of the most extreme forms of conflict to which some children are exposed.”

Conflict, coparenting, and the quality of the children’s relationships with each parent are all connected to children’s well-being.

This is not an “either-or” issue that ignores the role that parental conflict or co-parenting play in children’s lives.

Still, the data strongly supports the idea that the quality of the parent-child relationship is the best predictor of future outcomes for the children.

In other words, the role of conflict has too often been exaggerated and should not be the determining factor in child custody decisions or in regard to JPC arrangements except in those situations where the children need protection from an abusive or negligent parent.

Why is shared parenting important? Children need time with both parents

There is no reason to postpone overnight visits of infants or toddlers.

In fact, 110 international experts agree with the conclusion reached by psychologist Richard Warshak in his recent research paper:

“There is no scientific evidence that justifies limiting or postponing overnighting until children of separated parents reach the age of four.”

Read this whitepaper by bestselling author (Divorce Poison) and professor Warshak: Stemming the Tide of Misinformation: International Consensus on Shared Parenting and Overnighting.

Traditional visitation schedules can weaken father-child relationships for life

Study by Wake Forrest professor Linda Nielsen, published in the American Journal of Family Law:

“Most children want to spend more time living with their fathers. Most do not like the every-other-weekend arrangement.”

Indeed, this is one of the most consistent, most robust findings in the research on children of divorce.

Most children say they wanted more time with their fathers and that the most long lasting, most negative impact of their parents’ divorce was the weakened or lost relationship with their fathers.

The majority who had lived with their mothers said that shared parenting would have been in their best interests.

Not surprisingly, when fathers try to rebuild their relationships during the children’s early adult years, the relationship is often too strained or too damaged to be reconstructed.

As one of the most highly respected researchers on children of divorce, Joan Kelly, states,

“[f]or four decades children have reported the loss of the father as the most negative aspect of divorce. Even when they continued to see each other, most relationships declined in closeness over time. This has been primarily a result of the traditional visiting patterns of every other weekend which has been slow to change even in the face of mounting research evidence and a reluctance to order overnights for your children.”

Disadvantages of 50/50 custody or shared parenting

You may consider some of these points as negatives of 50/50 physical custody:

  • One parent who prefers to have the kids most of the time may now miss them.
  • A parent who prefers to be an every-other weekend parent may resent equal parenting responsibilities, and the sacrifices they must make to care for the kids.
  • Depending on where you live, equal parenting time may mean you are not entitled to child support, or less child support, or no alimony. Or, you may find yourself paying child support when you would not have had you had the children the majority of the time.

Research, studies and articles about shared parenting:

List of 20 published articles about benefits of shared parenting from Leading Women for Shared Parenting

Institute for Family Studies: 10 Surprising Findings on Shared Parenting After Divorce or Separation

Women's Equality Day: Shared parenting benefits working moms

TIME magazine: This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Children Out Most

Shared Parenting: Why Modern Families Are Choosing Equality

Washington Post: More than 20 states in 2017 considered laws to promote shared custody of children after divorce

Pew Trusts: More Time for Dads? States Weigh Changes to Custody Laws

As outlined below, there are zillions of ways that women benefit when we equally share parenting time with our kids' fathers.

How to advocate for more shared parenting

How you can become a successful co-parenting while advocating for shared parenting:

What to tell your kid when their dad is not involved

The real reason your ex doesn’t see the kids

50/50 custody benefit #1: Stem gender inequality

When we equalize parenting time, we equalize the genders. Today, when the vast majority of parents separate, courts dictate that kids stay with the mom, dads get visits with their own children, dads pay child support.

This just reinforces dated, sexist gender norms: Moms are the default caregivers financially dependent on men, dads are the default breadwinner for whom parenting is optional.

Split parenting time in half, with both parents equally responsible for the time, logistics and mental load of parenting, and gender inequality will be stemmed.

Close the pay gap? Get dads involved? 50/50 custody, no child support

50/50 custody benefit #2: Decrease fatherlessness

Bring up 50/50 physical custody in a room of single parents, and dads scream their rights as parents have been violated, while mothers scream that dads don't show up and do their share.

Both are equally correct.

We cannot expect men to be active, engaged fathers when they have been told since birth that they are the lesser parent, that they should defer to the mothers, and that once they no longer live in the same home as their children, they are relegated to a visitor and a paycheck.

Similarly, we cannot expect women to be financially independent if courts and cultural norms dictate we be primary caretakers.

Surveys find that men do want to be involved fathers. Let's create a world where they can be.

50/50 custody benefit #3: Increased financial support for kids

A study published in a 2015 issues of  Journal of Marriage and Family, finds that about half of fathers who were cash-poor and unable to make child support payments, nevertheless make a significant contribution in kind—providing baby products, clothing, school expenses and food—worth an average of $60 a month.

Fathers who did not visit their kids gave only about half as much in-kind support as those who spent at least 10 hours a month with them.

“The child support system weakens the child/father bond by separating the act of love from the act of providing,” said the study author Kathryn Edin, a sociologist and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Distinguished Professor.

Plus, when each parent has the kids equal time, that means that each parent has to pick up expenses like food, replacing outgrown clothes, random school fees and birthday gifts.

Our Family Wizard is the most-used, and most court-mandated co-parenting app. Track expenses, chat, share a calendar and contact and schedule information about the kids. With a free 30-day trial, discounts for military, and fee waivers for low-income families. Check out Our Family Wizard now >>

50/50 custody benefit #4: Decrease domestic violence

Family law practitioners and mental health professionals have long noted the increase in high conflict and violent incidences spike at the time of separation and divorce, including false reports designed to gain an upper hand in custody disputes.

Take the inherent dispute out of separating, and domestic violence cases drop.

That is what is happening in Kentucky, which in 2017 became the first state in the country with a presumption of equally shared parenting time. A year later, family court filings had dropped by 11 percent, and domestic violence reports were down 4 percent.

50/50 custody benefit #5: Moms have more time to build a business/career

My co-parenting relationship has improved gradually in my 10-year career as a single mom, and today we have approximately equal time sharing.

I am here to tell you: It is a hell of a lot easier to travel to conferences, go to evening work events, take on the extra project or start a second income stream if you do not have to juggle those professional tasks with parenting.

13 career-level work-at-home jobs for moms

50/50 custody benefit #6: Moms have more time to date

Guaranteed free time, including overnights, means moms have more time to be women — without the burden of paying for child care.

Take the guilt and stress of time away from kids, and arranging a sitter, now mothers can date in a healthier way, and not resort to sneaking out, or sneaking men in (pro tip: please don't do that).

Many single moms report that dating as a single mom is the most fun, and the best sex, they've ever had.

How to date as a single mom — and why it's better than you remember

50/50 custody benefit #7: Moms have more time to exercise

Hate to break it to you: The more free time you have, the fewer excuses!

50/50 custody benefit #8: Kids enjoy more love

Aside from all proven benefits of bonding with both their mother and father, children who enjoy the broader circles of extended family, friends and community: grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors — all support and care that benefits all children — and adults!

This new network of caregiving opens up all kinds of benefits, including more flexible schedules for the parents (more access to loving and free childcare — thanks grandma!), as well as one-on-one time with each parent — something any single mom or single dad can tell you is hard to come by.

In a two-parent home, one kid may spontaneously join a parent on a grocery-store run. One child might join her dad washing dishes while the other plays games with his mom. Spontaneous one-on-one interactions have their own dynamic between two people, parents and their children included. These episodes are rare in single-parent homes. In a single-parent house — especially when kids are little and usually clamoring for attention — there is one overriding dynamic: Everyone, all together.

A few years ago, my kids and I would arrange “mommy days” by skipping out on day care one at a time. On our “mommy day” my son Lucas giddily sat on his big sister's booster seat as we ran errands around Manhattan (he later recounted this as a highlight: “And then I told Helena and her cried!”).

We went shopping for a new car, my son strapped in the middle back seat, his chunky little legs sticking straight out, patiently looking out the windows on the test drive. At the local diner, Lucas insisted on sitting next to me in the booth and popping catsup'ed fries in my mouth. Without his outgoing  big sister present, I see the assured, confident part of my son shine brighter than usual.

50/50 custody benefit #9: Both parents have time to rest and recharge

Half my social media feed is crowded by selfies from moms who have sequestered themselves in a pantry and are 911-ing for an emergency wine delivery to relieve them from the overwhelm of full-time parenting.

Give her a break. Give the dad a break. Share the kids. Use your newfound free time to go on a hike. Binge Fleabag. Hook up with your cute neighbor. Take a spin class. Or go out for a glass of wine at a bar with your girlfriend like a grown-ass woman.

Mothers argue that their nursing babies should not be apart from them overnight, even though those babies were toddlers — a position my divorce lawyer friend says a judge would laugh at, especially if an enthusiastic father was pushing for more access to his kids. She's seen judges order babies as young as 3 months stay overnight with their fathers.

Mothers who aim to keep the father's time with his children to every-other-weekend on claims he is unsafe due to mental health issues, or substance abuse issues, or unstable employment — twisting logic justify the kids are indeed safe on alternating weekends, but any more hours would put their lives in danger.

When I hear about these cases, I sympathize with the women. After all, I was there myself! But I also see how easy it to get sucked into thinking of ourselves as mothers beyond everything else — be it professionals, citizens, friends, artists, lovers, partners, or even women.

Related documentary and books on shared parenting:

Recommended shared parenting documentary: Divorce Corp

Kickass Single Mom, Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children, By: Emma Johnson

Blend, The Secret to Co-Parenting and Creating a Balanced Family, By: Mashonda Tifrere

Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You, By: by Amy J. L. Baker, PhD and Paul R Fine, LCSW

Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing, By: Dr. Richard A. Warshak

How to get 50/50 custody

There is no single formula that guarantees joint physical custody. However, I have seen the following be helpful in establishing 50/50 equally shared parenting:

1. Focus on a goal of a low-conflict, amicable, and equal process.

Even if your ex has taken winner-takes-all tactics, you are more likely to appeal to them if you seek cooperation, opposed to winning. Likewise, a judge is more likely to be sympathetic to a parent who has behaved in a spirit of low-conflict and fairness, while a combative spouse can be seen negatively by a court.

2. Start custody negotiations at 50/50

If you are at the beginning of your divorce, separation or family court process, do not agree to anything less than 50/50 time sharing. Doing so establishes a precedent that is hard to change later.

3. Hire the right family / custody attorney.

Find a family law attorney with a track record of winning fair and equal divorce settlements. However, in extreme cases a skilled litigator may be called for.

What is a child custody lawyer?

A child custody attorney is a family or divorce lawyer that helps parents in a custody dispute resolve their differences — either through negotiation outside the court, or in trial. Typically one parent hires a custody attorney to secure more parenting time, and prove they are the better parent.

Who can benefit from child custody lawyers?

A parent who is at risk, or in a situation where their child is being taken away from them by way of unequal parenting time, relocation or kidnapping by the other parent may benefit from a child custody attorney. Likewise, a parent who genuinely fears his or her child is at risk of abuse or abduction should hire a relevant attorney.

Signs you definitely need a custody attorney

Cases when you should definately seek out a professional child custody attorney include:

  • Physical, sexual or extreme emotional abuse
  • One parent has severe mental health issues or an addiction that interferes with the chid's safety
  • One parent refuses to agree to an equal parenting schedule, or a court arbitrarily orders an unequal parenting schedule.
  • The other parent refuses access to the kids or otherwise adheres to a visitation order.

4. Do not try to negotiate lower child support in exchange for more parenting time.

While this may be a possibility later, you never want to appear to seek more custody time in exchange for lower payments. A common pushback I hear when I advocate for shared parenting is: “Only dads who want to pay less child support ask for equal parenting time.”

5. Never miss a visit

(Within reason!)

Take your parenting time seriously. Show up for all scheduled visits, school activities, parent conferences and medical appointments — on time.

6. Never interfere with the other parent's time with the kids.

Play fair.

7. Keep records of your visitation adherence — as well as that of your co-parent.

One of the first co-parenting apps, and widely used app, OurFamilyWizard, which features chat, information storage (like pediatrician and teacher contact info, prescriptions, etc.), and financial record-keeping. 30-day free trial,  discounts for military families, and a program to provide OurFamilyWizard free to low-income families. Each parent can add unlimited numbers of other people for free, including children, grandparents, step and bonus parents, as well as attorneys.

Try OurFamilyWizard for free for 30 days now >>

Read OurFamilyWizard review on >>

Podcast transcript

From Like a Mother with Emma Johnson:

Hi, today I am talking on my most, most favoritest topics: Shared parenting. This is something that is part of my own personal journey and it's really become one of my greatest passions which plays into my larger life agenda which is gender equality and feminism. But, for those of you who don't know, I'm Emma Johnson and you might know me from my blog, Wealthy Single Mommy podcast, Like A Mother. My book, the Kick Ass Single Mom. Part of my story is going from a single mom with not much involvement from my children's dad. My unique story is that he did suffer a brain injury and had some unique challenges that meant he was not able to co-parent for a long time, in an equal way, but fast forward to today and I couldn't have guessed, right? Based on our past history together as co-parents, I could not have guessed that we'd be such great co-parents and share parenting.

So, if you're not familiar, shared parenting means that after divorce or separation, it is presumed that both parents are equally good parents, that they both have equal legal rights to the kids and approximate equal time with the kids, about 50/50. We're living in the real world, people have jobs and lives and kids have schedules, but it's shared. Both people have space in their homes. Both parents have space in their homes for the kids and they're shared. There is incredible research out there about they're showing and proving that this is, unequivocally, what is good for kids. Nothing. There is nothing out there that supports that one parent having primary custody of the kids, primary time with the kids, is better. It is not. Fifty-five peer review studies, including in high conflict cases. I think that is so interesting. High conflict relationships between the parents, it is still best for kids when they have equal time with their parents.

Why primary custody for moms is sexist

And one byproduct of not having equal time is that when the dads, and let's be real, we know that 80% of the time when these things go to court, the moms get the primary time. Eighty percent of the time the kids are primarily with the mom and that's sexist. That is sexist. We cannot have gender equality and government in the workplace, in our economy, if we do not have gender equality at home and home might mean a wonderful long-term marriage. Home might be a separated family, but we cannot have gender equality if we do not have gender equality at home, which brings me to the benefit of shared parenting to moms. Ladies, today, now that I have a great co-parent in my ex-husband, my kid's dad, my life is so much better. We're all stressed out. Moms are stressed out. We love to talk about how we are burdened, because we usually are disproportionately burdened with caring for kids, which can be wonderful and joyful, but it can also and often is just a grind. It is just an exhausting grind to always be responsible for kids.

Well, guess what? When you have a co-parent that has the kids 30, 40, 50, 60, 70% of the time, those are hours you are not responsible for the kids. Yes, you may miss them, but you're also not working as a mom. You can focus on your career. You can have a social life. I get all my dating done when my kids are with their dad. I'm in a wonderful relationship now for almost a year and I've been able to nurture that relationship because my kids are with their dad. In the summer, the kids are with their dad for a month and I travel around the world. It is wonderful. I'm able to have the flexibility. That is key right? All moms know that flexibility is the key. Let's say that you have a business opportunity that comes up. It requires you go into a sales meeting or a conference for a few days. You're a lot more likely to take that professional opportunity to grow your career, to grow your business, to grow your income which is great for your whole family and it's great for feminism.

Coparenting, 50/50 shared parenting allows women to pursue professional opportunities

You're much more likely to jump at that opportunity if you know that you can work through it with your kids' dad. If you can't count on another co-parent, you're holding yourself back. It's so hard to invest the time and the hassle and the headache and the guilt in hiring a sitter or roping in family members if you have to do those things, opposed to just frankly taking for granted that you have somebody that has your back. Because you're going to have his back, too, and it goes both ways. You know what? Recently, my ex-husband has a girlfriend. She's really sweet. The kids love her. I have had to travel for work. I had the opportunities to travel for work, which frankly I think in the past I might have turned down because of the guilt, because of the headache, because of the financial expense of hiring a sitter.

Instead, my kids' dad has taken the kids many days at a time. He has a life, too. He has to work, and so then he brings his girlfriend, who helps get the kids to school or whatever is going on and all of a sudden, I went from a few years ago being a mom who felt like I was it. It was like me and the kids and that was it, to now I have this extended web of people who care for my kids and it is wonderful. It is such a relief. It is such a relief in my mind and in my heart because I know there's other people caring for the kids and I am free to go and be a successful professional. To go and work out, have free time when I'm not managing the kids and just a live a pretty awesome life because I have this really healthy co-parenting experience.

So, that is what I want for you. You know, I know there's going to be comments, that you know, my ex is abusive and I believe you. I believe you and that is an exception or that he just doesn't want to show up. He doesn't. And what I'm trying to do here is change the culture because we know statistically that when the dads get that lousy every-other-weekend Wednesday night deal and in New York where I live we call it the Friday night special. When parents are marginalized to visiting their own children, when dads are marginalized to visiting their own kids, they are that much more likely to completely check out of their kids' lives. They are. That is a statistical fact and that is something that, culturally, you and I can work together to change, to welcoming dads into their kids lives. Not presuming that our way is the best way.

Let fathers be parents too

When those kids are with their dad, they're with their dad. Unless they're actually being harmed, he gets to parent how he wants to parent and you're welcoming him. You're inviting him in to know about the kids, what's going on, including him in medical decisions. Going to that parent-teacher conferences together, actually collaborating, and this is something that you, as a mom, you can make steps to do, right? You can make those steps. He has to meet you halfway eventually. He might not do it now, but together, I really believe that we can be changing family culture which affects the courts and that is really going to affect gender equality for the better in this whole country. So join me.

If you liked this podcast, what can I say? You're going to like my book. It's out now. You can find it at every retailer. The Kick Ass Single Mom, be financially independent, discover your sexiest self and raise fabulous, happy children. With Penguin, this book is already giving it tons of media. The book has not even been launched as I'm writing this promo. We have more than 105 media hits including The Doctors,, U.S. News, on and on, all the big ones and lots of your favorite small media are giving it great praise. This is the book to help you get … not just get on your feet, but really kick some serious ass in your career and business, discover and romantic and sex life that's going to blow your mind and rest assured that your parenting is probably a heck of a lot better than you already think and your kids are going to turn out amazing.

There is a lot about my own personal journey, which I have never shared anywhere but in this book. It is dozens and dozens of testaments and stories from other amazing women that have thrived in their careers, have discovered new and positive relationships with their children's dads they didn't think was possible and found that they have thrived and enjoyed this period their life as single moms in ways they probably had never thought of before. So, check it out now. The Kick Ass Single Mom, be financially independent, discover your sexiest self and raise fabulous, happy children. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your local independent bookstore, online, in stores, Powell's, Books-A-Million, every single one of them has it. Buy it, share it with your friends and thank you so much.

About Emma Johnson founder  Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.


  1. Amanda Boser on July 22, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    I don’t think this is the case for everyone. My sons dad is selfish. And only comes around convenient for him. He would use the 50/50 to basically take Kyler whenever he wanted bathing in having no schedule what so ever conflicting my work life, and also my childcare. Because his work is so all over the place if we did 50/50 I would either have to pay full time childcare just to r serve a spot or quit work. As well we live in separate cities. When he kicked us out to be with another woman and her kids I tried to stay in the same City for a year. However it was filled with drama stress no support and actually my house was vandalized my vehicle was vandalized, and I was harassed and stocked someone was writing me letters with bad things.

    I don’t think shared custody is the greatest for a child emotional well being. They won’t ever have a sense of “home” they’ll have constant changing schedules that can be overwhelming, two sets of rules to remember and if a child is grounded the day before they go to the other parents than what ?

    I’m not saying that this shouldn’t exist I just don’t think it should be automatically assumed that way. I think that it should be granted that way based on some form of background :( I couldn’t imagine my son going with his dad for a week at a time.

    • Terri for fathers on October 6, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      Having a sense of “home”, is not s important as having a sense of their “father”. Shared custody is the best, also feel there are always two sides to every story.

      • Father who hates this equal parenting crap IT HURTS THE KIDS on December 15, 2019 at 10:19 am

        Terri for fathers, with all due respect it is that kind of BS that caused these laws in the first place. The fact is “a sense of ‘home'” is the cornerstone of LIFE LONG friendships and relationships, a lack of this bedrock value is what causes foster kids to be backpack people and hoard food in their foster parents’ room afraid of the next shift. No matter how stable the environment because of this trama they are never “safe” in their minds. There are now emerging studies that show this whole push for “equal parenting” is causing like this, just not as strong, damage to the kids who are forced to suffer this lack of a home. The implication is they also tend to end up poorer, and less educated because of this disruption being turned in to little more than luggage causes in the developmental years.

        Here is my situation:
        *April 2019 Mom LEFT, and other than the odd weekend or day here and there the kids were with Dad. To the tune of 90%+ Dad, less than 10% Mom
        *And she is still not stable…
        *One time she tried to cause damage to their hearing
        *Mom forgot their birthday, or internally planned to be unavailable for it, but no big deal to here she can just have a 2nd party a week later.
        *Mom decided the kid’s medical needs did not need to be met and caused a needless 3-month delay in them receiving a medical developmental evaluation.

        I could keep going all-day: $20K+ in because of these laws and the default “equal/shared parenting” assumptions to fight the uphill battle to protect the children from that neglect and instability. What these laws do: is let a parent “abandon” their kids, and then use the court to force taking them from the one who never would leave them.

        • Sharlee on January 15, 2020 at 4:21 pm

          Typically these laws have a rebuttal option so that if it can be proven that equal parenting is not in the best interest of the children, the judge can deny it.

    • Matt on May 13, 2020 at 1:52 pm

      You setup a schedule if he doesn’t go by it then that’s on him. That’s your reason to go back to court and get it changed. But 50 50 is what is best for the kids. As parents we have to stop thinking about our needs and wants but what is best for our kids future. Some parents want money, power, or just to hurt the other parent. That’s not healthy for the kids. Let the kids have equal time with both parents. Remember its about what a kid needs not want. We don’t give a child candy all the time cause he asked for it. We give a good meal cause its what is best for the child. The child doesn’t know that but later in life he will find it out. Its the same as 50 50 custody the kids get what is best and later in life they realize it was good for them.

  2. Vanessa on May 12, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    Thanks for clarifying all of this, I have been thinking about it quite a bit and needed to have the perspective of researchers to add to my thoughts.

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