Close the pay gap? Get dads involved? Shared visitation, no child support

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

  • 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.)
  • That pay gap will. not. close.

Here's the answer:

Start all custody negotiations at a default 50/50 equally shared parenting time and custody, with no child support or alimony.

50/50 custody states

In 2017, Kentucky became the first state in the country to pass an equally shared parenting law, one which creates a rebuttable presumption of equal parenting time for separated and divorced parents. That means that when you split in Kentucky, time with the kids is equally split in half — and the onus is on one parent to argue the other should have less time.

Within two years of the law passing, the number of family court filings in Kentucky dropped by more than 11%, and the number of family court filings involving domestic violence dropped by 4%.

Other states including Arizona, Missouri and South Dakota also have very progressive and strong shared-custody laws, and 25 states are debating legislation that would do the same.

However, there is a long way to go. In 14 states, when parents are not married when the child is born, sole custody is automatically awarded to the mother, even when the father signs a paternity acknowledgment form.

What is joint custody?

Joint legal custody is the most common agreement, in which both parents have equal rights to have a say in major decisions affecting children, including medical, education, religion, and where the child lives.

Joint physical custody — also referred to as 50/50 time sharing, equally shared parenting, and equal care — means that the time the kids spend with both parents is approximately equal.

It is very common for parents to be awarded joint legal custody — presumably deeming both fit enough to make sound decisions for their children. However, equal parenting time far less common.

Neither joint legal nor joint physical custody automatically have any bearing on one another, nor any child support paid. In other words:

A father with 50/50 custody can pay child support — and even alimony.

Joint custody and child support

While there is a great movement towards 50/50 equally shared visitation time in at least 30 states, the majority of family courts still default to some version of a model that has prevailed in separated families for decades:

  • Dad pays mom child support, and maybe alimony.
  • Mom is the primary custodian and dad gets the “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.


  • Women's job in society as unpaid caregiver, financially dependent on a man.
  • Men's job in society is to be the breadwinner, reliant on a woman to care for his loved ones.

These notions are supported by Pew research findings:

About three-quarters of Americans (76%) say men face a lot of pressure to support their family financially, compared with 40% who say the same about women. And while about two-thirds (68%) say men face a lot of pressure to be successful in their job or career, fewer than half (44%) say women face the same type of pressure.

By contrast, far larger shares of the public say that women are pressured to be an involved parent. 77% say women face a lot of pressure to be an involved parent; 49% say the same for men.


This outdated arrangement 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% of millennial moms have had at least one baby outside of marriage, according to Johns Hopkins), and forced fathers to be true co-parents, gender economics in this country would look very, very different.

More surprising single mom statistics: prepare to have your mind blown

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

How does time-sharing affect the pay gap?

When parenting time is shared equally, single moms would have so, so much more time to invest in their careers and businesses.

When parenting is equal, moms are not the default caregiver when kids barf in the night and need to stay home from school.

50/50 custody means 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 parenting time affords 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.

When dads not only have equal parenting time, but also equal parenting responsibility, fathers are forced to make the hard work-life decisions that women have known for generations, leveling the workplace playing field.

Decisions like whether to take time off after having a child, or scale back a career to nurture young children — the very hard decisions that women have made for generations, and are at the root of the pay gap.

Finally, joint physical custody equalizes parents not only in separated and divorced families, but all families. Equally shared parenting laws change family culture. If equal parenting were the norm, this would create a collective mind shift at home, work and in the bedroom.

After all, time and again when asked how we will ever close the pay gap, experts cite affordable child care. Having half of the time off from your kids, who are in the safe and loving care of the other parent, is as good as it it gets. No expensive state or federal budgets required! No politically charged policy to pass! JUST SPLIT TIME EQUALLY BETWEEN PARENTS!

Why is child support so unfair to fathers

While the world is changing for the better in many ways, the majority of child support payors are men. Here are all the reasons this is unfair to dads:

  • Child support is built on the presumption that one parent (mothers) care for the children while another (father) pays for them. This shoehorns men and women into sexist roles, with men forced to be the breadwinner.
  • Often, whether by law or practice, child support is tied to the amount of time a man is allowed to spend with their children — heightening an already adversarial family court system, and making men pay to see their children.
  • Child support calculations rarely factor in a man's ability to afford payments, and in states where failure to pay leads to jail time, forces poor men trapped in a cycle of imprisonment, unemployment, and more imprisonment. Meanwhile, no money is paid in child support, and fatherlessness is perpetuated, as outlined in this New York Times article:

Though the threat of jail is considered an effective incentive for people who are able but unwilling to pay, many critics assert that punitive policies are trapping poor men in a cycle of debt, unemployment and imprisonment.

The problem begins with child support orders that, at the outset, can exceed parents’ ability to pay. When parents fall short, the authorities escalate collection efforts, withholding up to 65% of a paycheck, seizing bank deposits and tax refunds, suspending driver’s licenses and professional licenses, and then imposing jail time.

“Parents who are truly destitute go to jail over and over again for child support debt simply because they’re poor,” said Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, which filed a class-action lawsuit in Georgia on behalf of parents incarcerated without legal representation for failure to pay. “We see many cases in which the person is released, they’re given three months to pay a large amount of money, and then if they can’t do that they’re tossed right back in the county jail.”

Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat. — The New York Times

While many assume child support mandatory in divorce — it does not have to be. If you settle out of court through a low-cost online divorce service, you can negotiate joint, 50/50 custody, equal parenting time, no or lower child support, and any other arrangements that you and your child's other parent agree to.

If you go to family court, however, a judge will likely apply your state's child support calculator, with no flexibility.

Child support reform promotes father involvement

Fatherlessness is a public health crisis, that affects every facet of American life. Antiquated child support laws and collection enforcement are at the root of this issue.

A whole body of work studying father involvement finds that when a child is raised without active involvement of a father, they are likely to suffer:

  • 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)

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

50/50 parenting and time-sharing is better for all families, everywhere

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

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.

Strong workforce participation by women is great for children, as studies have shown. Strong workforce participation by women is great for the economy, national security and societal stability.

I know the pushback:

I am the better parent. I am the mother! I don't want him to have more than 30% visitation. 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%.

There are 60 peer-reviewed studies that find that shared parenting is best for children in separated and divorced families.

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

Just because the child lived in your uterus does not mean you get more say in how they are raised.

However, if you work on practicing equally shared co-parenting, you may find that both parents can grow in their parenting — and know that their children benefit from it. More tips on how to co-parent in this post.

Men will never step into their full father potential if we keep assuming they are the inferior parent. In fact, many men and women both attest to the fact that fathers really improved their parenting after divorce. These parents say that this happened because:

  1. They were forced to — the mom wasn't there all the time to swoop in when parenting was stressful. This is hardly surprising. Parenting is not rocket science, and men and women are born equipped for the job. Keep in mind that humanity has thrived based on the model of very young, uneducated people raising other to adulthood. Parenting is not a higher calling requiring of special skills or education.
  2. There was no mom nearby micromanaging his parenting. Now alone with the kids, the dad now had room to grow into the father he was meant to be.

We agreed I would give up my career to stay with the kids, and it is not fair that my standard of living is compromised 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.

What to do if your ex shows up late or not at all — all the time

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.

If today you commit to equally shared parenting starting at age 1 with increased time with the father now, that defuses conflict and builds trust that the spirit of your agreement is indeed fair.

A broader societal move to default, equal parenting and no child support will not be painless. But they are necessary steps in an evolution towards financial and parental equity.

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% of children in an unequal visitation arrangement had lost complete touch with their non-custodial parents, which are nearly always the father.

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

Terry Brennan, of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, discusses shared parenting:

Have a listen:


  • There are 60 academics papers support shared parenting for children of divorced or separated parents.
  • In cases where ‘standard' visitation is awarded — every-other-weekend — fathers become depressed and non-involved, and within 3 years, one study found, 40% of children in an unequal visitation arrangement had lost complete touch with their non-custodial parents, which are nearly always the father.
  • Research finds that a minimum of 35% of kids' time with both parent is required to bond with a parent. Anything less robs children an opportunity to truly bond with the parent.
  • Extended families of both parents have the right to be part of children's lives.
  • Of course abuse and neglect cases are the exception.
  • The shared parenting movement has become mainstream, supported by as many women as men, with 20 shared parenting bills around the country, with passed laws in Utah, Missouri, South Dakota and Arizona.
  • “Fathers who get involved from the get-go are far more involved, while those who are marginalized become distant parents and are marginalized further.”
  • If courts stop asking parents to argue for their children, and start assuming that they are both competent people, parents form a more amicable and collaborative co-parenting relationship, which results in more involved fathers and happier children.
  • In Australia, after the implementation of shared parenting laws nationally, 73% fewer parents went to lawyers to resolve co-parenting issues, and just as many parents sought out counseling to resolve issues.

Full transcript of Like A Mother episode featuring guest Terry Brennan

Emma Johnson: So if you follow this podcast or follow my blog, you'll know that over the last couple years I've become increasingly passionate about the issue of absentee fathers. The numbers are simply personally alarming to me and highlighted by the fact that I realize I'm been living in a East Coast big city, progressive bubble where people here, you get divorced, people generally in my circle of friends and associates … you know, people more or less split up parenting. A lot of involved dads, a lot of pretty progressive families. And just doing my research, it's out there, there's lots and lots of information out there that shows that, that's not the story in this country.

Emma Johnson: Even amongst those East Coast liberal big city families, absenteeism among fathers who live separately from their kids is astonishing. So in doing this research, one of the big trends, one of the big areas of research that is going on out there is a real push for shared parenting in families that are divorced or separated maybe. Families where the parents live separately, what to do with the kids? So that's how I came to today's guest who is a Terry Brennan, and Terry is co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting. Leading Women for Shared Parenting and their URL, I urge you to check it out, it's, and Terry, he's not gonna this because he's extremely modest, but he is single handedly doing a lot of the work that of this organization, which is working very grassroots, state by state, legislature by legislature, to push for a presumed shared parenting mandate.

Emma Johnson: So that means you go to family court and you're sorting out your custody agreement, the presumption is that both parents share custody, legal custody, right? That's the decision making about medical issues and education, healthcare. But also shared residential custody, a minimum of 40% each parent. So this is so important, and the reasons is Terry will very eloquently dig into in this interview. It's so vast and deep seeping into families, into feminism, what is good for kids, what is good for men. Keeping men involved. This is what happens when we presume that men are incompetent parents, when we presume that they are inferior fathers, when the courts, their exes, everybody at large is telling them that they stink. And if god forbid, they should push back, and fight for more time with their children and are shut down, time and time again, that's when guys check out. That's when guys check out and stop being involved parents.

Moms are not necessarily entitled to more time with their kids

Emma Johnson: So I really want you to pay attention to this episode. I will tell you that I've gone personally through a lot of different phases, a lot of different thinking about my own family. And it really … I really have to humble myself and share with you. When I first got divorced, there's a lot of going with my ex, between the two of us, there's some medical concerns, and I really fought for sole custody. I sat for 90% of the control of over what was going on with my kids. And as time goes on, I see that that was flawed, you know? There was some special circumstances where I feel justified, but just because the baby lived inside of me does not entitle to more say, more control, or more time with my kids.

Emma Johnson: And for the greater good of every in my tiny little family orbit, and then on the macro scale of things, I very, very, strongly urge, listener, whether you're a mother or a father, you know a mother or father going through these decisions, to really open your mind and consider the value of true shared parenting as we will hear from Terry Brennan, my guest today. He's the co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting. Have a listen.

Terry Brennan of Leading Women for Shared Parenting

Emma Johnson: Terry, I'm so excited for our conversation today. Thank you for being here.

Terry Brennan: Oh, it's always a pleasure, Emma.

Emma Johnson: So why don't you just start of tell us a little bit about your organization leading women for shared parenting. Leading Women for Shared Parenting, what is your mission and what is your goal?

Terry Brennan: Sure. I'm happy to have the opportunity. So Leading Women for Shared Parenting is a sole cause organization, which promotes the use of shared parenting as the cornerstone of family law. We are a research based organization, so we know that there are 43 papers and growing, I might add, that support shared parenting as best for children of divorce or separation. And we wanna allow children to have the most resources that they can in their lives. Resources in every way imaginable. Certainly financial resources and things of that nature, but also the love and nurturing that are provided by both their mother and father. And both their extended families.

Terry Brennan: And we know that shared parenting … or excuse me, the lack of shared parenting, fatherlessness, is linked to every major social pathology in the United States. So we wanna see children grow up in a happy environment with a lot of people around them who love them. And we know from the science that's going on for decades now, that that's best accomplished through shared parenting.

Emma Johnson: And how are you defining shared parenting?

Terry Brennan: So that's interesting. It's on our website. And it's a great question that you ask, because that can have different definitions. But right up on our website, you'll see what our definition is. And it's based both upon the research that's been done on shared parenting, as well as the implementation of shared parenting. And we've learned as it's been implemented in some states.

What is shared parenting?

Terry Brennan: So how the research defined shared parenting is when a child has a minimum of 35% of their time with both their mother, and their father post separation or divorce. The child's remaining time, if he's got 35% with both parents, is then crafted to be what's in their best interest. And the reason, part of the reason why the research says that that's what shared parenting is defined as is they found that that is the actual amount of time that a child has to have with each of their parents just to have a chance to bond with their parent. So instances where courts have traditionally ordered what's called standard visitation, or every other weekend and a one dinner a week, what you're really doing when you award that type of visitation to a child is robbing them of a chance to actually bond with that parent.

Terry Brennan: So that's how the research defines shared parenting is am minimum of 35% to each parent. That being said, what we've found in states where it i has been been implemented, I'll use the state of Utah as an example. In 2014 Utah passed a law that upped the amount of time that they have with both parents to 40%. And the quote by an attorney who is involved in the passage of the law in the newspaper said, “Because we've defined a minimum, the minimum has became the maximum”. So what they've found was instead of just standard visitation being ordered all the time, that the minimum amount of time was being ordered all the time. And because they wanted the children to have a little bit more time with each of their parents, so they upped it up to 40%. And that's gone very well.

Terry Brennan: So how we've defined ours is that with the typical exceptions that quite frankly I've never seen not included in the shared parenting bill, things like abuse, neglect, abandonment and so on. In those circumstances, I don't think about wants to see a child put in a shared parenting situation. But in circumstances that don't have those kind of anomalies associated with them, that a judge can go to 40% without even having to write the reasons why.

Emma Johnson: Okay. And that's the difference, that's the news in this legislation which by the way, I know you personally as a co founder of this organization, are working state by state, by state across this country to implement this sort of legislation that … I think what we wanna do right now in this interview is understand the problem that you're solving, right? Because what is the big challenge or big problem that's happening and has happened for decades in this country that you're looking to remedy?

The problem with court-ordered standard visitation

Terry Brennan: Yeah, for decades what courts have ordered, it's called standard visitation for a reason. The have ordered a visitation of every other weekend, and one dinner a week. And that's really not giving children the chance to bond with each parent. And in fact what it does more often than not, is it … the fathers become depressed, they become removed from their children, and within three years, 40% of children who go through this type of a circumstance, have lost complete touch with one of their parents, the non-custodial parent, which is typically the father.

Terry Brennan: So we've created a fatherless generation of children and that is something that we're looking to get rid off. We're looking to increase fathers' participation in the lives of their children. And this is backed up by study after study. In Nebraska, they completed a 10 year study of how much time children were awarded with their non-custodial parent. And the 10 year study found that the average time a child got was five days a month. Now, it's hard to have a relationship with one of your parents when you're seeing your parent for five days a month.

Terry Brennan: We've seen similar studies repeated multiple times in fact, in Massachusetts and elsewhere. So that's what we're looking to address. We're looking to keep both parents involved in their children's life after separation and divorce.

Emma Johnson: Okay. And you guys have been very successful, I mean talk to me about what's going on nationwide. Where are we in this change that you're initiating?

Terry Brennan: This is a movement that's been going on for several decades now. And when it first started, like all social movements, it was seen as an extreme movement and not part of the mainstream and so on. And it's the people who are involved early on certainly plowed ground that people who are advocates or attorneys don't have to plow now. So very thankful for all their efforts, but it really has become a mainstream movement. And let me quantify that with a few numbers.

Terry Brennan: Two years ago the Wall Street Journal reported that there were 20 shared parenting bills in states around the country. So you've got 40% of the United States actually considering shared parenting bills. And these bills vary from state to state, as you would expect. But it's really becoming the norm, I think 2017 will actually be another year we're already seeing an awful lot of activity including some bills already being filed. I know we'll have a bill in Texas, I know we'll have a bill in Wisconsin, I know we'll have a bill in Alabama, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and so on. So you're already seeing a lot of activity.

Terry Brennan: And in addition to that, we're starting to see states flip over into shared parenting. And bills passing legislatures. So this past year Missouri passed a shared parenting bill. Previously, as I've mentioned it was Utah, but also South Dakota passed a shared parenting bill-

Which states have passed shared parenting bills?

Emma Johnson: So how many states currently have shared parenting that's enacted?

Terry Brennan: In addition to those states, the state of Arizona probably has the best parenting bill in the country. Which is actually it's kind of an interesting and different approach, it doesn't mandate a minimum time with each parent, but what it instructs the courts to do is maximize the time with both parents. And that we recently had an article in Newsweek magazine which included the interview of a sitting judge in Arizona. And everybody agrees that law is working very well, and it's been in place since 2012. So certainly enough time to see the impact of that legislation.

Terry Brennan: So there are now, I think it's five states who have moved to a full shared parenting arrangement, and we're expecting a significant amount of legislation in 2017.

Emma Johnson: Let's dig a little bit more into the problem though. Let's talk about that for a second. Because my audience and my blogging is largely women. It is the moms in this equation. And their argument or what their reaction is often in these conversations is, “Well, he just doesn't show up. I tried to facilitate it, he doesn't show up”. Or, “He doesn't want to be an equal parent, he doesn't even wanna do 5% much less 40%”. Or, “He's abusive”. Or, “He's narcissistic”. Or, “I'm the better parent. They simply should be with me because I do X, Y, and Z, and I'm the better parent”.

Emma Johnson: They recognize that this absentee father is an issue, but they also believe in all those things that I just said, so I imagine you hear those comments and more. What's your reaction? What's the answer?

Terry Brennan: Sure, yeah. And I don't think anything you've said in that statement is new to me. And I don't think about involved with Leading Women for Shared Parenting or any group that are involved with would say that there is no such as a father who didn't wanna be involved with their child. There certainly are. Just like there are mothers who, you know, aren't good moms. There are dads who don't wanna be involved with their children. And again, in those types of circumstances, I don't know of about who's looking for the best that we can have for society that is pushing those type of circumstances should have shared parenting.

Fathers who are active in their kids’ lives from the beginning tend to stay involved

Terry Brennan: But what we find is that fathers who get involved really from the get go tend to stay much more involved and those fathers who are marginalized, again, from the get go tend to become not only distant parents but get marginalized even further.

Terry Brennan: There's research to show that 40% of the kids who go through separation or divorce lose contact with one parent within three years, and this doesn't happen over night, it happens over time. Where, you know, a dad is supposed to have the kids on the weekend but for example, he gets the flu. And now he's put in a position where he can't have the kids and expose them to the flu or skip time with the children and basically not see them for any length of time other than a dinner or a month at a time. And then he feels distant, the relationship feels awkward, maybe he has to travel for work.

Terry Brennan: And instead of the parents working something out where the kids still get the amount of time that they have been ordered with their father, things just drift apart. And that's certainly not good for the dad, but it's also much more importantly not good for the children. And so what we find is if you take the argument where what courts are frequently doing is putting the children in between the two parents and asking them to argue for their children. If you take out of the argument, if you give each parent a minimum of 35% time with their children, the argument lessens, the parents can get along better, and they actually can craft a parenting plan that is better for both themselves and for the children. So, you know, that's part of how I'd answer your question.

Emma Johnson: Right. Because I think that like often as a mom, and look, I have not had the easiest relationship with my ex-husband, my kid's dad, and I think I cycled through all kinds of relationships with him. Very contentious, very amicable, and I know, it resonates with me when these moms say, “Well, he should just show the F up. It doesn't matter if I'm a bitch, it doesn't matter if he owes child support, it doesn't matter if we're it through the court. He's the dad, he has a moral obligation, and he should just show up”. And I've said those things myself.

Emma Johnson: But what I'm hearing you say is that it really doesn't matter what you think, and that might be right, but sometimes you could be so right, you're wrong. And he's just not gonna show up if it's a contentious situation. It's just not working. The current … that moralizing is simply not work and we need a new system.

When the parenting responsibility falls to the “better parent”

Terry Brennan: Well, I think it comes back to what you were saying before, I mean another one of your questions was, and I'll paraphrase it, I'm the better parent so the children should be with me. This is a circumstance that really we already know isn't good for the children. As long as you're dealing with an engaged and capable parent, and it's not, it shouldn't be a competition between mom and dad for who's the better parent. It should be a situation where are both of you parents who are ready, willing, and able to contribute to the social and emotional, and learning development of your children, and if so, then you should both have a significant amount of time with them.

Terry Brennan: And if you say that it doesn't matter how I'm treating the other parent or things of that nature, that parent should show up, the other side of that argument is well then they should have an equal amount of time with the children. Or more time with the children. If you want them to show up, it should be showing up every other weekend, or 35%, 45%, 50% of the time. Because believe it or not, Emma, I've had a multitude of conversations with parents who were divorced, and this is really interesting subject. Where they were divorced and initially they got a standard visitation of every other weekend and one dinner a week. And over time, through the court system, they were able to move that into a shared parenting situation.

Terry Brennan: And to a person, what I've been told is that the relationship with their former spouse got better in a shared parenting situation than it was in an every other weekend situation.

Emma Johnson: Oh, I totally believe that.

Terry Brennan: Because they now looked at the children and the responsibilities of the children as a partnership and they worked things out.

Emma Johnson: That's right. You know what and the other thing I always tell people, especially if you're new to this whole separated family situation, it's very hard to see the long picture, the long story, and you're gonna feel different, you're gonna calm down, you may learn to trust the other person again, maybe you don't initially for a whole bunch of reasons. Set your anger aside, and you might be begging that parent to take the kids more. Because your life goes on, you understand that you're not gonna die if you're not with them seven days a week. You might wanna work more. You might have a romantic relationship. Any number of things, and you just want somebody to be there to pick the kids up after school when you have to work late.

Terry Brennan: Look, you as a single mom and your audience as single moms know that being a single parent can be exhausting. Especially when you're trying to also hold down a job, have a social life, have a romantic life, excreta excreta. So giving a simple parent some more time off, having the other parent take some with the children, actually leads to a more robust life and lifestyle for everyone involved.

Emma Johnson: Oh, yeah. Right.

Shared parenting when the parents are angry with each other

Terry Brennan: But you mentioned something else which was really interesting and that is around the anger. One of the very interesting things, findings of Dr. Edward Crook who is a psychiatrist at the University of British Columbia, he studied the implantation of shared parenting when it was put in place in Australia. And one of the things that he found is something that I think is a flaw in our current system. People generally speaking who are separating or going through divorce, in part because it isn't working and in part because they are angry with their partner.

Terry Brennan: And you take people, if you think about this from a societal wellbeing perspective, you take people who are upset with each other, and you put them in so contentious environment designed to fight with each other over money, or their children, or their belongings, or whatever. Of course the anger is not only going to stick around, but it's probably going to get worse. What Dr. Crook found in the implantation of shared parenting Australia, was that people really didn't go to the legal community nearly as much. In fact there was a drop of 73%. People stopped going to lawyers and they started going to community health centers, mental health professionals, licensed therapists, and so on in order to work through those emotions.

Terry Brennan: So instead of battling out in the court system, they work through the emotions, they figured out what their triggers were with the help of mental health counselors, and then they were able to work out parenting plans that work better for everyone involved, and you're seeing-

Divorce lawyers have a vested interest in your dysfunctional custody dispute

Emma Johnson: Yeah, but it's like lemme just drive home the point I believe you're trying to make which is that, I mean not to vilify lawyers, there's lots of good lawyers out there, but the lawyers have a vested interest in your life being high conflict. And they are getting you at the worst time of your life going through a divorce or a custody dispute is the lowest point of your life. And they step in and charge you 300 dollars an hour to ramp up that conflict. So what I'm hearing you say is when the government and Australia's case, the federal, national government steps in and says, “Okay we're gonna take a lot of that conflict right out of the equation”, what did you say? 73% of the cases didn't even make it to court anymore?

Terry Brennan: That's correct. That's correct and for the drop in use of lawyers, there was a corresponding increase in the use of mental health centers. So what the society did was it took it out of the contentious aspect of the court system and put it into the therapeutic aspect of the mental health system to help people work through those emotions. So you're exactly right, I mean when you think about attorneys and I'll say-

Terry Brennan: So you're exactly right. When you think about attorneys, and I'll say right up front, there are plenty of good attorneys out there. In fact, there's a number of them that have joined Leading Women for Shared Parenting. And even in instances where you have shared parenting, there still is a need for attorneys. You have plenty of other issues to work through, as far as finances and property and things of that nature.

Terry Brennan: But to work jointly with the mental health community in order to work through those issues, and to take the children … That's the main thing that we like to do. Take the children out of the issue, or out of the realm of things to be argued about. When it comes to attorneys, attorneys really only make money in two ways. They make money to draft documents, and they make money to argue. And so they do have a financial incentive to continue the case on and to continue and heighten the argument.

Terry Brennan: That's not good for families or society, or certainly for children.

Taking the conflict out of custody and shared parenting

Emma Johnson: No. I was just reading about another less formal study, but it was a family therapist who just, for a while, did his own study. And it was a flip of a coin whether … These couples would come to him and they were ending their marriages, families with kids. And they said, “Flip of a coin,” and half of them went to lawyers and half of them went to mediation, which is, for those that don't know, low conflict.

Emma Johnson: Often, they're lawyers, but it's low conflict. There's one. It's just, the goal is for everybody to keep legal fees and conflict to a minimum. Anyways, and what's the results? You're familiar with this, right? And it was something like long-term, the fathers were involved four or five times more for the families that went to mediation.

Terry Brennan: Right. It's non-contentious, the fathers aren't sidelined, that doesn't create further acrimony between the parents. Which, of course, bleeds over into the life once the case is settled. And it just leads to a certainly healthier, but I think more importantly, much happier relationship for everyone going forward.

Emma Johnson: Right. So it's really rethinking. I mean, I've been writing a lot about shared parenting and equal custody. And it melts people's minds. If they haven't gone through it and challenged the status quo themselves, their brains melt. Because it is so ingrained in us. Women and men that a marriage ends, the kids go with the mom, and it's like you described. That Friday night … That's what we call it in New York: the Friday night special, which is the every other weekend deal.

Emma Johnson: And the notion that dads are just as equal as moms, just as important, is a new and wondrous thing for most people. And I think it's extremely upsetting to many women, when they realize that that is not going to be their story.

Terry Brennan: Well, again, I like to keep the focus on the child. So when parents look at what “they” are getting out of a situation where they go through a separation or divorce, that's the wrong mentality. And what we really need to focus on as a society is, what are the kids getting? And it's difficult to argue that when the kids can have a meaningful relationship with both their parents, that they don't have a fuller life with more resources.

Shared parenting and extended families

Terry Brennan: And let's not forget, we're really talking not just about mom and dad splitting up; we're talking about extended families. We've all heard the situation that when you get married, you married into the family as well. Well, that's the case for these children. So when we set up a Friday night special, as you call it, or a standard visitation every other weekend, what we're really doing is not only creating an every-other-weekend dad, but also an every-other-weekend paternal grandma, paternal grandpa, paternal cousins, aunts, uncles, and so on.

Terry Brennan: We're removing half of the child's family from their life. It's just difficult to argue that that's the best that we can do for both our children and our society. So we're looking to change all that, and I think we're having some great success.

Emma Johnson: I know you are. And this is how all social change happens. First, you need the policy, and then it has to be implemented, and then culture changes. And what you're doing is so important, because I could, over here on my blog, can lecture people all day long to change their attitudes. But when it's coming a judge that is deciding what your family's gonna look like, that trickles down. It trickles down to families that haven't even thought about divorce. And it infiltrates their thinking about how they're gonna manage their families and their marriages and their parenting.

Emma Johnson: And it's such a huge movement that you're part of. So I'm grateful. Thank you.

Terry Brennan: Well, it's interesting that you mention cultural change, Emma, because that's an important part as well. And we have seen … We can all go back to the days of when fathers were considered, “I go to work and I come home and I sit and read the paper while mom and the kids run about at my feet, and that's the extent of my involvement.” And that certainly isn't the case anymore. There have been studies: I'm thinking of one done by a marketing firm in the U.K. which asked mothers. And 60% of mothers said that the fathers were co-parents, just as involved in the raising of their children as much as they were.

Terry Brennan: And it's interesting. The reason I bring this was up done by a marketing firm, is because you're starting to see that also in our advertising. Two years ago, we had the Super Bowl, which was known as the Super Bowl for “dadvertising,” where fathers were portrayed much more accurately, rather than the Homer Simpson-esque fathers that we've all come so used to, where mom is the super-parent and dad is the dolt and uses the staple gun to put a diaper on.

Terry Brennan: Not only is that not an accurate reflection of the fathers that you see as you look down your street, your block, your apartment building and so on, but it's not an accurate reflection of dads in America. And the millennial generation has certainly come along, and those fathers are very interested in shared parenting. And so all of our culture is changing about the time when we're realizing from the decades of studies that kids do best when they've got mom and dad equally involved.

Terry Brennan: And that's because mom and dad bring different and equal skills to the table for child development. Again, we've gotta see that reflected in our courts, when separation does happen. But it's gonna lead to a much healthier society.

Emma Johnson: You and I talked before, and there's this presumption that the dad is the inferior parent. And that is really the nucleus of the change that we're trying to see. I know, I just remember this time earlier this year. And my kids are not with their dad half the time. They see him a couple times a week, but it's the majority of the time with me. And it was during the middle of the week, and I had a big work event. And they were gonna spend the night with their dad in the middle of the school week.

Emma Johnson: And I was telling them the plan, and my son, who was five or six at the time, he's like, “Well, why are we spending the night at daddy's on a Tuesday, and why is the babysitter not coming over?” And without even thinking about it, I said, “Because daddies are as important as mommies.” He hadn't gotten that message yet. He was like, “Oh,” like that was news to him. And I was like, “Okay, maybe he's not gonna see that reflected in the time he spends with his parents, but I have to drill that into him and his sister somehow.”

Emma Johnson: And I'm still working that out. Maybe you can give me some advice. But it's not just about even our kids today; it's about gender equality. It's about raising our children and our daughters to expect different things from their partners and from the world moving forward.

Shared parenting and gender equality

Terry Brennan: Absolutely. And that will play into not only their beliefs about the world, but their own relationships as they mature and become adults themselves. If what we're teaching children is that dads don't matter, then any mother who has a son can relate that they know what their son is gonna grow up to believe when he enters his own adult relationships and has children of his own.

Terry Brennan: So dads do matter. We know that. It's proven again and again in the research. And they matter to sons and daughters alike. So you're exactly right, and good for you, Emma, for establishing that kind of a foundation with your own children, where dads matter just as much as moms. You're absolutely correct.

Terry Brennan: You know, it's interesting, though, because it is, I think, a generational thing. I remember last year when we were pushing a shared parenting bill in Florida. And when I was talking with attorneys there, what they would tell me is, “In part, it depends upon the age of the judge that you see.” Some of the older judges who were brought up in the environment of the “Leave it to Beaver” kind of a family, where dad wasn't as involved with the children, were often warding a every-other-weekend kind of visitation schedule.

Terry Brennan: But some of the younger judges, who were more involved and saw what was going on in society, were more apt to order a shared parenting type of arrangement. So it's something that is becoming outdated, certainly, and it's something that … The every-other-weekend schedule is certainly not backed up by the research, as to what's best for kids.

Emma Johnson: Right. Yeah, I mean you're really just torpedoing generations of ideas about family and gender and sexuality. And it's big. It runs very, very deep.

Terry Brennan: It does run deep. You're exactly right. And it's more than just for the mental health of the children; it is about gender equality. And it is about their expectations of what their relationships are gonna be like as adults.

Emma Johnson: Right. I always come at things from money. I think it's just another lens with which to examine things. And I'm always talking about ladies. Give up some of the time, because then you can earn. You're not spending on child care, you're not … The days that my kids go with their dad after school are long, wonderful days. I get so much done. And why shouldn't I? Why shouldn't I have equal opportunity to earn, advance my career, and close the pay gap for women everywhere in the world?

Emma Johnson: Feminists have been saying this for generations: if we want equality at work, in the public sector, then we have to have equality at home. And in a separated family, that just means the equality between two homes, right? Two households.

If women want equality at work, we need equality at home through shared parenting

Terry Brennan: So it's interesting. You see that certainly in some places. One very interesting story about Leading Women for Shared Parenting was that until her passing, Karen DeCrow was a member of Leading Women for Shared Parenting. And Karen was the former president of the National Organization for Women. And we have a video on our website saying exactly what you just said. That we aren't going to achieve for women equality in the workplace until we achieve equality for fathers in the home.

Terry Brennan: And it's something that you're seeing from time to time within feminist groups. In fact, the Women's Equality Party in the U.K. has, as a part of their platform, making sure that children have an active involvement with both their parents post-separation or divorce. So it's something that you're starting to see some of the purely women's groups focus on.

Emma Johnson: Right. Well, initially your movement … I think you still get a lot of pushback. I mean, it was National Organization of Women that sat down with some of the leading early voices of the shared parenting movement. And their official stance was against shared parenting. Am I right?

Terry Brennan: Well, initially, actually, they started out in favor of shared parenting, though again, this was back in the 60s. And that's in part, when Karen DeCrow left the National Organization for Women. Warren Farrell was also involved in that movement at that time, and he was on the board of National Organization for Women in New York City. And they went through a decision point where they had to be involved with getting shared parenting for children and families post-divorce or not.

Terry Brennan: And the decision was made at that point in time to not advocate for shared parenting from the National Organization for Women. So we actually run into them from time to time as we're advocating for bills in different states. We did run into them; they opposed us in Florida last year. But there's plenty of reasons and plenty of research to support shared parenting. And actually, the National Organization for Women and women's groups, we don't find to be our primary opposition.

Terry Brennan: The primary opposition actually comes from the groups who are currently profiting from the existing system. And on top of that list, I would put the state bar associations.

Emma Johnson: Oh, interesting. What's their position? What's their argument?

Terry Brennan: They're against shared parenting. Of course, they don't come out and say, “We're against shared parenting because our profits depend upon conflict.”

Emma Johnson: Yeah, but what is the argument that they make?

Terry Brennan: Well, the arguments that they make are, “It depends on a case-by-case basis. Every case is different.” Any time I hear a negative name involved, I certainly become suspicious, because that's certainly one way to get people to feel poorly about a situation. But they call them “ping pong kids,” bouncing back and forth between two homes and things of that nature. And they say that they're currently ordering shared parenting when it's appropriate.

Terry Brennan: But again, the research shows that in some states, that certainly, shared parenting is growing. But in other states, as I mentioned before, in Nebraska and Massachusetts and elsewhere, credible studies have shown that it's anything but.

Emma Johnson: Okay. Let's go through the arguments again, Sid, because the state bar might say it, but now saying it too, the “ping pong.” Let's talk about that. Debunk why that's not a viable argument against shared parenting.

Arguments against shared parenting

Terry Brennan: Yeah, so one of our Canadian members, Chris Titus, actually has a wonderful article in the Toronto newspaper that talks about her situation. In fact, it actually talks about her children and interviews her children. And her children couldn't more plainly state that it's really not a big deal for them. They live with their mom in the city at some points in time, and they have XBox and this and that and the other, and then the other part of the time, they live with their father out in a more rural community, and they play outside and so on.

Terry Brennan: And they have friends in both places. Again, we're talking about expanding the resources available to children. And in the unusual circumstance where, for example, they forget a book or a musical instrument at mom's house and they're supposed to be at dad's house, then the parents just work it out. They find a way to deliver the book or the musical instrument to the child. And the research actually shows that kids who are in shared parenting do better than in a primary home type situation.

Terry Brennan: So the situation, the argument is always made that, well, kids need stability. And what it comes down to, Emma, is how do you define stability? Those who oppose shared parenting think that stability is defined by living in a single home. Other people, if you define stability as maintaining a relationship with both your parents, would define stability that way. But what we're finding, and what decades of research has found, is that keeping the stability of both your parents involved in your life, far outweighs the benefits of keeping a stability of a room in one home.

Emma Johnson: Right. Yes. Very well said.

Terry Brennan: Now that being said, that being said, there is some advice, and I remember you when I talked about this the last time, that I would give to fathers, having spoken with children whose parents got divorced and they're now adults. And when you speak with kids like that, you find certain themes, one of which is, every noncustodial parent should always have a room, a separate bedroom for their children in their house, really no matter their financial circumstances.

Terry Brennan: Because what adult children of divorce will tell you, is the fact that I always had a room at dad's house made me feel like I belonged there.

Emma Johnson: Right. Because it was symbolic of the space that he kept in his life for the child.

Terry Brennan: Absolutely accurate. Absolutely accurate.

The importance dads making room in their lives for your kids

Emma Johnson: Yeah. And I'll repeat the story that I told earlier this year. I dated for a few months, a guy, a total New York City guy who took me to all these super fancy places and was always talking about how successful he was, and he spent gobs of money on clothes and dinners. And he's this fancy guy. And he was divorced, and he seemed like he really had a lovely relationship with his teenage daughter. And he talked about her a lot, and it did seem like a very sweet relationship, genuinely.

Emma Johnson: But despite all his bragging about his success and the fact he lived in a very, very fancy high-rise, new construction Manhattan building, that apartment had one bedroom in it. He didn't have a second bedroom for his daughter. And that bugged the heck out of me, and that was one of the major reasons I couldn't date him. And it was not just … It was that part of the fact that he fought bitterly with his ex over money, but not for shared parenting. He was happy to have the every-other-weekend special, et cetera.

Emma Johnson: But it was that bedroom. So dudes listening, it matters to your kids, but it also matters to women that you're trying to get into bed. So that's my two cents on that.

Terry Brennan: You know though, Emma, one of those thing … Because you mentioned what are the arguments against shared parenting? And one of the things that I said is that the attorneys will say, “Well every case is different.” And when you work with people who are really advocating and pushing to try and get more time with their children because they've been minimized … Frankly, in many cases, because of their gender, what you'll hear is, “Every case is different, in many instances, in a very negative way.”

The discrepancy between what we tell men about competency as parents and what our actions say

Terry Brennan: I'll tell a quick story. Molly Olson, who's actually the President of Leading Women for Shared Parenting … I was talking with her not long ago. And she said that she went through a case where the guardian who was involved, decided that the father should be minimized in the life of his children because he didn't get the children a cat. And the children wanted a cat, and he didn't get it for them, and that was selfish of him and so on and so forth.

Terry Brennan: And so he was minimized. And Molly said, “I knew it was gonna happen, I knew it was gonna happen.” And sure enough, two weeks later, she had another case where the father was minimized because he got the children a cat. And they thought that was, he was trying to bribe the children to get them to wanna spend more time with him. And that's why he got the cat, so he ought to be minimized.

Emma Johnson: But here's the thing. I don't wanna have these conversations about cats. I don't want my tax dollars to be spent arguing about the cat or the no cat. I want to be able to say, “You know what?” This is the thing where I think that moms … because okay. On one hand, we're telling men and boys in this country that they're incompetent parents, which is really saying they're incompetent men and incompetent people. They're the Homer Simpsons.

Emma Johnson: But we're also putting … The flip side is that we disproportionately put pressure on women to be the perfect omnipotent mother.

Terry Brennan: Absolutely.

Emma Johnson: So there's two sides to that, which are equally toxic. Okay, so the family split. An otherwise reasonable, loving woman has a lot of guilt that she is not now the primary parent. And I will be very honest. I totally felt that my kids were basically being born when I was going through my divorce. And I was nursing them, and I just felt this … I was a new mother feeling this huge connection with my children. My mind was being blown by this new motherhood in a really wonderful way.

Emma Johnson: And the thought that I would somehow be diminished in their lives and therefore in the eyes of society, was a very, very real pressure.

Terry Brennan: Yes. Yeah, no, I understand that completely. But part of … Again, you gotta keep the focus on the children in my eyes, Emma. One of the things that was really interesting for us when we formed Leading Women for Shared Parenting, was to understand the amount of support that it had from the public. And we got involved with some early research done by Dr. William Fabricius, who studied exactly that. And he did it by tapping into the jury pool in the state of Arizona.

Terry Brennan: So he got a random selection of people from the jury pool, and was able to ask them about their feelings for shared parenting and so on. And since we got involved with that research, our interest grew in that. We then consolidated every single poll that was out there that was reliable. And when I say “reliable,” I'm not talking about something that was put in the newspaper or where you can go online and click a box and one advocacy group can skew the results.

Terry Brennan: I'm talking about something that was done by a professional polling firm with a professional methodology and so on. And what you'll find is two things that may be surprising to a lot of people. One is that shared parenting is consistently gotten very strong support with the public, to the tune of 70% or higher. The highest that we saw was in Massachusetts, where they actually had a nonbinding ballot initiative. Over 600,000 people voted. And it received 86% favorability.

Terry Brennan: So an interesting thing in a state where the research shows that fathers are consistently given a minimum amount of time with their children, and 86% of the population endorses shared parenting. That tells you what kind of a stranglehold the various bar associations have over the judiciary committees in Massachusetts.

Fighting against the trend of shared parenting in the courts is an uphill battle

Emma Johnson: So what I'm hearing you say is that … People listening, it doesn't really matter what your opinion is. This is just a trend. This is like where it is a snowballing, positive trend. You and I, Terry, agree, it's a positive trend in the courts. And so you're facing an increasingly uphill battle if you want to fight against it.

Terry Brennan: Well, the point of the studies and so on, is that obviously when you have 70-plus-percent of the population support it, you not only have … Even if every man on the face of the earth supported it, which we know isn't the case, you've also got a majority of women who support it. So when we dug deeper into the numbers, what we actually found, and this is backed up in poll after poll, is that men and women support shared parenting in equal numbers.

Emma Johnson: That's beautiful. That makes me so happy.

Terry Brennan: It is. I mean, everybody says, “You know what? We've got a situation where a child is a child of two parents. And as long as they're engaged and capable parents, then they oughta be able to spend time with them.” Because people do appreciate the value that fatherhood brings. So it is something that is an extremely important point. And another point that we find that unfortunately draws contention is, you brought up before, to look at it through the lens of money. But you brought it up as a way of building your own business, building your own career, et cetera, et cetera.

Terry Brennan: And that's fine. Women should be looking to do that, certainly. But the way that the court looks at money is a little bit different. And of course, it's set up to create contention between the parents. In many states, what you have is a situation where the amount of child support that is ordered is ordered based upon the amount of time that you spend with the child.

Emma Johnson: Right. Let's talk about that, because I know New Jersey, which is close to me … and the number of states.

Terry Brennan: Absolutely. And what you see … In fact, I would dare say it's in a majority of the states. And what you see is that actually creates negative incentives, quite frankly, for both parents, okay?

Financial incentives for shared parenting: good or bad?

Terry Brennan: It creates negative incentives, quite frankly for both parents. It creates a negative incentive for mom because she wants to then maximize the amount of time that she has with the child, in other words minimize the child's father, because she has a financial incentive to do so. She gets paid more to minimize dad, okay? And it creates a negative incentive for dads, dads that don't want to be involved with their child's life, to actually argue for more time with their child because it lowers their child support payments.

Emma Johnson: Right. And then everybody's in court right, because he argues for more time but then doesn't show up then they're back in court or just everybody just split up. Go earn your own money, you've got plenty of time now ladies, go earn. Be responsible for your own lifestyle. Everybody has to have the same real estate, everybody needs approximately the same number of bedrooms in the house, the same amount of whatever bikes the kids are going to ride, or clothes they're going to wear at your house. There's not an unequal financial situation.

Terry Brennan: Yeah, Leading Women for Shared Parenting doesn't take an official position on child support, but we are not fans of the times when these states actually set up something to provide a financial incentive to parents to minimize the life of the other parent and their child. We know that's not good for children.

Emma Johnson: And what about situations where the dad or one parent owes the other parent a ton of child support, is there ever a reason to tie visitation to money?

Terry Brennan: No, again if you're looking at what's best for the child, then time with each parent is what's best for the child, not to say that people shouldn't pay their child support, they certainly should. And in fact what you'll find, and again this is backed up in paper, after paper after paper. Parents who have more time with their children actually pay more of their child support, so it's actually better. Again, this is all about, it depends upon what you're interested in, if you're interested in the legal system and generating as much money as you can for the legal system, then you set up policies to generate the most conflict. If you're interested in what's best for society then you look at the research and so on, and you set up policies based upon what's best for society. And shared parenting, as we've shown is not only best for children but it actually results in paying more child support. It's something that we know is coming, we can see the momentum building for it and we're really looking forward to 2017.

Why the National Organization of Women does not support shared parenting legislation

Emma Johnson: Yeah, that's awesome. Well I want to bring up one more thing and I can tell you're avoiding it but it's part of the equation, and it is the push back which I think, correct me if I'm wrong, is the official position of the National Organization of Women, which is they don't support shared parenting legislation because they say that it facilitates domestic violence.

Terry Brennan: Yeah, and I actually, I'm not avoiding that in fact I always look forward to that question.

Emma Johnson: Oh good. You're welcome.

Terry Brennan: And the reason I do, is because of the membership of Leading Women for Shared Parenting. So one of the things that people will notice when they take a look at the membership of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, we got thousands of members, we're in all 50 states, we're in something like 50 countries across the globe, when I say that I mean our members are from, but we've got some women who are prominent and who are the leaders of our organization, and they include a number of elected officials, both senators and representatives, they include journalists, researchers, lawyers, but we have a team of domestic violence practitioners that is literally world class. These are women who have made it their profession to study and interface with domestic violence cases, victims, perpetrators and so on.

Terry Brennan: When it comes to me, Emma. I'll talk about things that I know quite a bit about that I want to share with my voice of what I've learned with the community, and shared parenting is certainly one of those things. When it comes to domestic violence, I have a cursory knowledge of it but I always tend to turn around and say, why should you talk with me when you could be talking with some of the leading experts in the world on it, and oh by the way, they're members of Leading Women for Shared Parenting.

Emma Johnson: Yeah.

Terry Brennan: Just by the fact that we've got a number and it's probably five or so, of the women who have worked on the largest domestic violence study ever conducted is a real statement that they think that we can have shared parenting in our society, and that we can find the cases when there's domestic violence involved.

Does default shared parenting increase the risk of domestic violence?

Emma Johnson: Okay, just give me like a 20-second argument against it, against that argument, that we should not have a default shared parenting because it increases the risk of domestic violence because, why is that wrong?

Terry Brennan: Well, some people would say that we can't spot domestic violence, some people would say that domestic violence, and I agree with this by the way, isn't always a matter of physical violence, that there can be control issues, mental or emotional abuse, things of that nature as well. But again, I point to the states where we already have shared parenting, and you don't see a big spike in domestic violence happening in those circumstances. The judges, the court conciliatory people, the attorneys, mental health practitioners, everybody who's involved with it seems to feel as though the new laws are working well.

Emma Johnson: Well I would think a constitutional expert would find some way to show that that is, it's presuming that every father is an abuser, I mean that's the presumption, which is, I'm going to say it, that's fucked up.

Terry Brennan: Well it's funny because actually, again the presumption that we have from the media, which has a very powerful impact on all of our lives, is that domestic violence, what that really is, is men abusing women. And if you read that research, that isn't so. Again, I point people to the PASK study P-A-S-K, which is the largest study of domestic violence that's ever been conducted, and what they will tell you is, that by and large men and women perpetrate domestic violence in equal numbers.

Emma Johnson: Oh that's interesting, that is very under reported.

Terry Brennan: It is, now what they will also tell you, and I'm just repeating what I've heard from people who I do consider experts on the subject, is that we need to also state when we state that, that women are more prone to be injured or killed in domestic violence circumstances than men are, but that the perpetration of domestic violence is not a gendered issue.

Emma Johnson: Interesting, that's so interesting, so many issues. Yeah you know, one thing that you had told me in the past, because I said this whole issue of fatherlessness I feel like it's a very under reported media, very under reported in the media but you track this very closely of course, what did you say in smaller publications from smaller communities across the country, that's not necessarily the case?

Fatherlessness as the number one social problem in the U.S.

Terry Brennan: Yeah, it's interesting because there are many people out there who believe that fatherlessness is the number one social problem in the United States today. And that is back up by the research, we have about 40% of our children now who grow up in a fatherless home. It is tied to every single social pathology that is major in our country, whether it would be drug use, cigarette use, alcohol use, teen pregnancy, runaway. They have a higher percentage of dropping out of school, growing up to be future criminals et cetera, et cetera, every major pathology is linked to fatherlessness. And we do, on our web page we actually have a tracking mechanism called ‘Fatherlessness in the News', and there's a couple of things that we found very interesting about that.

Terry Brennan: First of all, it is the local or regional papers who seem to be writing about this, not the national media. And the thing that I found interesting about that is, if you think about the local papers these are the editors who are living in their communities, they are in the trenches so to speak, of America. They're not in an ivory tower, journalistic tower removed from the everyday living and dying of Americans. And they actually write about fatherlessness quite often and all of the things that I brought up, so you'll see that.

Terry Brennan: The other surprising thing that we found when we went through this is, it would be one thing if I said to the average American, are you surprised that we've got a fatherlessness problem in inner-city Detroit for example? And the answer that I would get back would be, no I'm not surprised at that at all. But you'll see papers in there, in Connecticut, in Florida, basically all over the country talking about fatherlessness, encouraging elected officials to get involved on a much more significant level and address the issue of fatherlessness, because they know it's really hurting our society. So those were the two major findings that we had in putting that together.

Emma Johnson: So it is not a poor brown person's problem, that's the presumption. It's the presumption that it's a poor brown person problem. Because it's the same dynamic, right if you tell somebody that you are an incompetent parent, that the person you love the most, that you cannot serve them, and that really the best way you can serve them is by giving them money and seeing them occasionally, and to change that you have to go through this incredibly painful expensive high conflict process. I don't care what color you are, you're not going to want to participate in that.

The false perception of African-American fathers as less involved

Terry Brennan: You know, it comes down to two things, Emma. First of all, yes it is, this perception, it is an issue in the community of African Americans for example, and you'll see statistics that say anywhere between 70% and 90%, depending upon the study that you'll look at, of African American children come from a ‘fatherless home'. That being said, if you define fatherlessness as they're living with a single mom and dad has every other weekend visitation, that's not an uninvolved dad. It might be a dad who wants to be involved more, but it's not an uninvolved dad. And there are studies out there that actually show African American fathers are amongst the most involved fathers.

Emma Johnson: Yes, yes. The most, more than white men and more than Hispanic, Asian men. That is very interesting and how do you explain that?

Terry Brennan: Well, let me just finish with one other point, and that is that while the percentage of fatherlessness in the African American community is higher, actually because they're a smaller segment of the overall population, the number of fatherless white children, just the pure number, outnumbers the fatherlessness African American children by a factor of 2:1.

Emma Johnson: Hm.

Terry Brennan: Okay, so this isn't a problem specific to the African American community, this is a problem with American society that we really need to address.

Emma Johnson: Okay, so we are closing in on an hour here, but I want you to share a little about your story and what motivated you to co-found Leading Women for Shared Parenting?

Terry Brennan’s motivation behind Leading Women for Shared Parenting

Terry Brennan: Yeah, sure. I was a divorced father here in Massachusetts and went through the entire process and in the court documents got a finding of fact that I was an engaged and capable dad who often read to the children, bathed the children, clothed the children, put the children to sleep, played with the children et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And even with that finding of fact got every other weekend and a Tuesday dinner. And that's when you realize that this really isn't about you being a good parent, quite frankly this is about my gender.

Emma Johnson: And how did that feel? When you heard the order, what did that feel like?

Terry Brennan: Well it's a feeling that's so horrible it's beyond my ability to put into words, Emma. I've asked people before what is the bigger gender problem in America today than to having your children taken from you for all but five days a month, because of your gender. And I know we tend to look at the issues where women still need to make strides in America, and I think there's plenty there is where they do. Being somebody that has researched every single shared parenting Bill in the United States and looking at the sponsors of each of those Bills, you can't do that work without seeing the few elected officials that we have who are women. And that's something that obviously we need to address as our society.

Terry Brennan: But there are issues, and I would put on top of that list, how fathers are treated in family courts that impact men on a negative basis as well. If we really want to aim for a gender equal society then we need to do it not just based upon the needs of one gender, we need to do it for everyone.

Terry Brennan: So anyways, after my own personal story I got involved with talking with others, other prominent attorneys and elected officials and so on, and what we found was a couple of things. First of all as I already mentioned, there was broad support amongst the public for shared parenting, but we found wherever we looked, a multitude of so-called Fathers' Rights organizations who were pushing for shared parenting, but knowing that women supported shared parenting in equal numbers as men, we actually didn't see any platform set up specifically for women to join. And so wanting a platform where women could show their support for shared parenting as well. That's how we formed Leading Women for Shared Parenting.

Terry Brennan: The other thing I'll say is this, being an amateur historian, we did do some research into other successful social movements, and when you do that you'll find a pattern. What I'll tell people is, when whites got involved with the push for African American civil rights, that fight was over. And when men got involved in the push for women's suffrage, that fight was over. And when we start to have more and more women come forward and put forth their advocacy for shared parenting this fight too will be won. As we get to the point where it becomes more and more obvious that the only people who are really advocating for the current system is the people who profit from that system, that's a system that's doomed for failure.

When the only people who advocate for a system are those who profit from it, that system is doomed

Terry Brennan: So as the research continues to come in and as we have more and more women advocating and more women joining, and we've got quite frankly, a very impressive list of women who've already joined and we're seeing that momentum build and begin to snowball, so we're very pleased with how things have gone so far.

Emma Johnson: It's wonderful, and I want you to leave us with your own story. So you got the Friday Night Special, but you fought it and you shared such a tender story with me about the fruits of that so if you care to share?

Terry Brennan: Ah it's nice of you that you remember that, that touches my heart Emma. I did, so again, I mentioned that when you talk with children who are now adults, but they grew up divorced, you'll find two consistencies. One is that having a bedroom in dad's house always mattered to them, but the other is that dad never stopped fighting for me, and that really made me feel like dad wanted me in his life, and I felt important because of that. And I too, went back to court, this time representing myself, I'm now in a shared parenting situation, and it's an interesting situation to go through, because I'm being somebody who reads the research religiously.

Terry Brennan: That's a very logical understanding of why shared parenting is best for kids, because I've read paper after paper and I've talked with expert after expert, but after I got shared parenting I will never forget, I was sitting on the couch watching a movie with my daughters and my youngest at one point in time, picked up my arm, brought it up to her, just kind of gently leaned forward and kissed me on the forearm. The reason why that was such a touching moment for me, is because that had never happened before. And that goes back to the findings of the experts involved, that you have to have a minimum of 35% with each parent just to have a chance to bond with that parent.

Terry Brennan: And so after I got shared parenting, I was able to have that 35% plus time with my children, we were now able to bond in such a way where they were able to show their love for me in a way that I hadn't experienced before when I had every other weekend. You know for that dads that are marginalized in the lives of their children, I would say you've got to keep pushing to be involved with your kids, it's really not about you it's about them. And the truth of the matter is, even if you are a dad whose been completely removed from your children and you haven't seen them in some time, you need to make the effort to get back involved with your kids. Maybe even get some help with a qualified therapist or talk with an advocate about the right things to do and you can certainly reach out to us at Leading Women for Shared Parenting. Because it's the right thing to do for your children and they'll thank you for it later on in their lives.

A message to single moms about shared parenting

Emma Johnson: And, what message would you have to the moms?

Terry Brennan: Wall to the moms I would say this, shared parenting is not only for dads, it's for moms as well, and I'll say that for several reasons but one of which is really primary. And that is, it's what's best for your children. We've got decades of studies that show that, and it's interesting because some of the women who we have joined Leading Women for Shared Parenting, in fact one of our biggest demographics, is mothers of sons. You know what the divorce rate is in this country, everybody knows what it is, and they are concerned that someday their son will grow up and be divorced and that he won't be treated fairly in family court and when he does and he gets named an ‘every other weekend dad' well, that just made her an ‘every other weekend grandma', okay. So every mother who has a son should be absolutely in favor of shared parenting.

Terry Brennan: But beyond it being best for your children, it's also best I think, for women involved, because as we've already talked about being a single parent especially on full-time basis can be exhausting and if you want to go out and have the time to be able to develop your career, to be able to have friendships and romantic relationships and God forbid maybe even some personal time, you've got to have somebody to take up that slack, as far as the child care responsibilities are concerned.

Emma Johnson: Right, and you're not a lesser parent, a lesser mother-

Terry Brennan: Not at all.

Emma Johnson: I will tell you, I had a turning point where, like I said, I've had every configuration, well I've always been the primary parent, no joke about that, but I just remember a time, doing this martyr thing a little bit I think, where I was really priding myself on having no after school care and always picking my kids from the bus stop, and [inaudible 01:07:14] in the family and making all this money, doing it all, like that was my story and that's my professional story. But I had this one day when the kids were with dad after school, he dropped them off at 6.00 pm, I had dinner ready, I had a great day at work, I went to the gym, I wasn't entertaining them for those painful hours after school, and we had the best evening.

Emma Johnson: I had fulfilled myself personally, professionally. They had a good time with their dad, their dad had a great time with them, and our quality time in the evening was so much better than had I dragged out the quantity and had all these hours with them that I wasn't enjoying. I was resentful because I didn't go to the gym that day, I was resentful because I should've working and not hanging out at the stupid playground, which I hate. It was a flip for me, I'm not that important, my kids don't need me that much, and it really is quality over quantity in parenting.

Mentally and emotionally exhausted parents’ time is not always best spent with their kids

Terry Brennan: Yeah, exactly. And when you're parenting full-time and working full-time, and trying to have a full rounded life, what you're really saying to me is I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. And so the time that you're spending with your children is time with a mentally and emotionally exhausted parent. That's obviously not best for either party involved, the child or the parent, so to give mom some time in order to enjoy life a little bit, to pursue some hobbies and interest, to have some friendships and so on and to be mentally rested, emotionally rested and in a good space, then the time with the children is obviously much healthier.

Emma Johnson: Thank you. Terry, I am so happy we've connected, I'm so grateful for your work. Thank you for being on the show.

Terry Brennan: Oh Emma, it's always a pleasure to talk with you, thank you very much. Emma Johnson: Terry Brennan, he's co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting.

Are you part of the Facebook group, Millionaire Single Moms? No income requirement, though BIG GOALS and a positive MINDSET required! Join now! 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.


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

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.

Diana Dawe, OCT
Ontario, Canada

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.

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

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).

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.

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.

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.

Everybody knows that mother is abuse children more often than men do, it’s a proven fact. If a woman is going to abuse her child it doesn’t matter if she has 50-50 or 10-90 or whatever arrangement there is, during the days she has her child that will be the time she will abuse the child so why can’t we all just do 50-50 to begin with? The children like it, the father likes it, only the mother who would get less mommy-support is the one against it. Imagine that –

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… 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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.,

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.

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.

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.

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: 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.

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?

You raise some good points but look now, even in the states that have gone to assumed 50-50 many times the children are still going to the mother because judges have always favored the female since the very first day. No matter what, the man will lose!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

If the mother loses her job it’s too bad! She should’ve thought of that before she cheated on her husband which caused the divorce. She will just have to get another job in the same city. She must wait until the child is 18. Isn’t this the exact same thing they would have done if they stayed married? Of course it is! So why do we always favor the mother post divorce? When are we going to stop coddling the female?

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.

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?

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

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.

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.

You are not exactly accurate in your position, let me explain. Almost all fathers go in to court asking for 50-50, and almost all mothers go to court asking for 100% percent custody for the money it brings. This is why the corrupt courts have to already start at 50-50 arrangement. Mothers have been allowed to get away with murder far too long!!!

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

If these douchebag daddies are so concerned about their kids, they would have made their wives and family A PRIORITY. I know many women who divorced because their selfish douche bag husbands made them work. They should be awarded full custody, child support and punitive alimony imo. These men should pay for depriving their children of a mother. In fact, I long for the days of the mob when these men would have been dealt with swiftly.

It sure worked very well when both parents are married! If the female decides to move away to practice her parental alienation then she should lose the time with the children. Why is it only fathers don’t have to lose time with their kids?

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.

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

“…Mom is best, yes I said it Mom is best,”

While reading your comments I was trying to decide if I should dismiss your arguments entirely. Until I stumbled upon this, and you made the decision an easy one…

LMAO is mom best when she was home literally one hour a day with the kids because her social life and career was more important? Or is mom better when she is dating a man out of prison on parole for nearly stabbing someone to death?

Or if mom never breastfed and only dad got up with them to feed them and change them in the middle of the night? Dad taught them to walk and talk and pray and be grateful and mom just ended up teaching them to swear and be angry… should they be with her then?

My godparents are very active Lutherans and they absolutely do not believe the children should live with their mother. At all.

OK, let’s make the permit home the fathers residence. Oh! What’s that? You don’t like that idea? Typical feminist response.

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.

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!

Women should always get the kids. Men should pay support. End of discussion. The hell with all you feminists who think otherwise. Many of these men are divorced because they are selfish douche bags

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

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.

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.

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.

Wow. No. Men are accused of being the ones with PD, but women are just as likely to be abusive.

Go work at the court house and read all the bullcrap FALSE no contact orders that are applied for on a daily basis to gain the upper hand on men.

Work for an abuse counselor and see how many men get laughed at when trying to tell of emotional abuse that happens in their relationships. It’s already emasculating enough to admit there is abuse happening, but no one applauds a man for trying to seek shelter from emotional abuse. It’s saddening and the newest feminist movement which is really just misandry, is what’s to blame with the lack of resources for men to get help.

Why do you mention so much about abuse as though divorce and abuse of children are just expected? And don’t you know that female abuses children more often than men do? It’s a fact with you want to hear it or not.

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

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!

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

Spoken like a true toxic feminist who wants to keep power and control over the kids for the money they bring! You are reprehensible and should have your children removed from you totally and permanently.

This article is so poorly written it is hard to even digest any of her thoughts. EJ has the free time and wealth and should learn how to write.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

“..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.

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.

I’m sorry for your situation, which sounds atrocious. However, cases like yours are the minority.

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.

You said “I know there’s some real screwed up fathers out there and “do you really have to mention this? When everybody knows there’s just as many if not more screwed up women out there?

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

I’m sorry for this situation, which perfectly illustrates the changes we do need — including NO child support when there is 50/50 custody

The reasons the courts never gave it 50-50 to fathers is because they get a cut of the ransom the fathers pay every month. Look up title 9D other Social Security act for an eye-opening experience. Yes that’s right, it’s illegal, immoral, and just plain wrong to extort money form millions of fathers but it happens every single day.

Most women alienate men from their children by way of manipulative techiniques. Any well trained play therapist can spot this from a mile away.

It sounds to be like you’re bitter, Trudy. It is a woman’s choice to give things up in marriage or any aspect of life. There is a beautiful thing called free will and it is driven by your own desires. That woman chose to not work and now she can choose to work to provide for her children and not cause unnecessary burden on someone who chose to leave them.

Let go of the bitterness in your heart. Your children sense that, despite what you may think and it will affect their adult life. Get over yourself and let him be a father.

I’ve seen it the other way lady. The prisons in this country are filled exclusively with men that grew up away from their fathers. Your anecdotal experience does nothing to erase the countless studies that show that children are much better off when Dad has half custody.

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.

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.

Lets’s face it, all they care about is MONEY so they can PARTY and go on VACATIONS but whine and CRY that they are POOR.


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.

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.

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.

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 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.

where are the stats? please show me some stats. I understand your case, however you did say “Statistically”. I know there are men out there as well as woman who don’t really care but as far as stats, I would be convinced if you showed some citation.

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?

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.

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.

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

My brother married a woman he met in the military and was head over heels in love with her. He wanted a family more than anything and they had a little boy. 2 years into the dream, he discovered she was cheating on him. He forgave her once. She did it again. My brother lost a huge piece of himself. He was heartbroken and went to visit a friend in Utah for emotional and mental help. We live in WV. They resided on my parents’ property with my mother being the primary caregiver of their son, having quit her job to care for him while they worked. When custody time came she claimed abandonment (for him leaving for 2 weeks) also alleged that he committed fraud by taking a loan out in her name and stated that they were pending (the current charges were a surprise to my brother at the custody hearing and were filed in a different county, because it was over 10k it was a felony), she also used a letter from an ex-friend who was angry at my brother which stated they would testify against him and alleged he was a neglectful father.

1. The loan was a tool/tactic – charges were dropped as his wife knew of the loan and it was used to pay off her truck, however, because it was a surprise tactic, my brother had no defense and no lawyer (could not afford one)

2. The letter was garbage, written by a spiteful low life who my brother tried to help. When he got tired of taking care of this man, he left (this was while the divorce was pending and rented an apartment with a “friend”. The man was jaded and is spiteful.

3. My brother had every right to seek solace and peace from a friend and everyone knew where he was.

My ex-sister in law gained full custody and the judge cited all of the above. He vilified my brother and called him a horrible person (at this time my brother was a business owner and veteran of the United States Army). 9 years later she continues to manipulate and control my brother. They lived 20 minutes from one another and he saw his son 6 days a month and cried to me over and over. He was heartbroken.

My brother played her games hoping she would let him see their son more, but she never conceded on anything. He finally had enough and moved to Iowa. This created a custody change wherein my brother gets to see his son more than he did when he was 20 minutes away.

Since she gained custody of my nephew questionable events happened to my nephew. In one instance, I took a 5-year-old boy to the ER because when I picked him up from daycare his entire face was covered in bruises. He couldn’t tell me what happened and then finally said: “I tripped and landed on a shoe”. this is just one example of abuse we feel he was exposed to.

While this is a deeply personal example of the manipulation women have over their exes, I see it over handfuls of my friends and their female partners and I know it is not an isolated incident.

Men get tired of dealing with the emotionally unstable, mentally exhausting antics women put forth. Those obstacles broke my brother, and mentally he is still recovering. However, I will tell you that the judge was wrong, his wife was wrong; my brother put himself through college, studied for the LSAT and is currently in Law School. Does this sound like a bad person to you?

I’ve seen my brother at his worst because he missed out on so much with his son that he can NEVER get back. It is sad. While visiting my house recently (with his son), I was getting drinks for all of the kids, and I told my brother, “Hey, I will get the drinks, give me the cup”, and we went back and forth until I realized why he was reluctant to let me do for his child what I did for my own….Because getting a simple drink for his child is always an unfamiliar experience and one he cherishes, while to myself, it has become a mundane part of my life.

So before you vilify these men, these fathers, please ask yourself what your behavior has done to foster their avoidance. Sometimes you do have men that check out but remove your bias and hate and spit and let the father be the father.

I speak from experience as I write this, my ex hurts my soul every day. Is the type of man to another woman that he wasn’t to me. Hurt me, cheated on me, lied to me. We have two boys and they come first. I sacrifice and cry at night, but I will never allow my hurt inter with their relationship. He wants to be a part of their life and I am no more entitled to those babies as he is.

While I might not have had a say in how my relationship broke down, we created life and they didn’t ask for their parents to not be together. I swallow my pride every day and hurt a lot, but that is my hurt, it is not theirs to be burdened with.

“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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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?

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

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.

I wish it was true that men want more time with their kids, but I have not seen the statistical evidence that men want their children 50-50. What source(s) did you obtain this info from? At the end of the day, Corporate America expects the men to be there on the job. I don’t see men out en masse fighting for family policies that will allow them to be home with their sick child (or even parent equally with the women). What I have witnessed in my community over the last 20 years is cyclical parenting behaviors in both male and female heterosexual couple-parents. When the economy is good, the men are less involved with child care/ family oriented tasks than when it is bad. I had a lot of hope with the Great Recession that dads would stay involved with their children.

During the horrible economic downturn from 2008 to 2011, I noticed that male relatives were caring for children in approximately 4 out of 10 healthcare related scenarios. These scenarios included taking the little ones to doctor’s appointments, PT, OT, speech therapy, etc. As the economy improved, I observed those rates of male participation decrease to about 1 in 10 to 12 appointments. The economy has improved, the men are back to work and the duties of taking the kids to appointments during the 8am to 6pm is back on the females. And in some of those 1 in 10 scenarios, it’s a retired grandpa or uncle taking the child to the appointment.

I know I sound biased, but men really need to give push-back to the workforce that they want equal parenting rights (even though they will take a hit to their career mobility and pay). Family leave policy in the US is terrible compared to other industrialized nations. It must be addressed because if it isn’t, 50-50 shared parenting concepts will look good on the court’s books, but the reality will be that women still end up holding the bag on primary child care giving. My son and I were discussing this fact. Men should have the right to be a part of their children’s lives and take the time to care for their children if that is what they desire. Dads matter!!!

The men are going to have to stand together on this. However, I think too many are complacent, and some don’t really want the responsibility, while others are very committed but don’t know where to start.

I agree with D. Young. I advocate for alienated parents, predominantly fathers’ but I also advocate for the other alienated family members This strikes me as biased and derragatory towards fathers. Our children should be our main concern. They need both “fit” parents to mature into self reliant, healthy ( both physically & emotionally) successful adults. The amount of money being spent in family court is absurd. It is more than enough to.provide higher education and a higher quality of life for our children. Family. Courts are bankrupting parents on a daily basis and I don’t just mean money. It took two people to createa child and it takes a village to raise them properly. If 50/50 custody was enforced not only do our children flourish but so will the parents. The amount of money wasted along with the immense stress, anxiety and bitterness that everyone suffers from is just ludicrous. Stop the iinsanitof this vicious cycle. In the end the children suffer the most but is it really worth all thebnegative effects it has on everyone. In the end in order to get revenge for a marriage or relationship that did not work out? I would much rather focus my time, money and efforts towards something that I benefit from and my children benefit mm from. Life is to short in my eyes to waste all the time, energy, money and pain that family court cause. It takes a great deal of maturity and selflessness to enter into equal parenting but by doing so it is a win-win for everyone involved.
D. Bedoya-Price

Why do you expect her to tell you when your child’s school events are? You can call the school and make sure you are on email distribution lists and get school notices so you are made aware.

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.

It is totally unethical and impractical for dads to have to FIGHT to have their kids half time.

Men are going to have to fight to have their kids half-time, just like women had to fight to be able to work. The US corporate system is still very gender biased when it comes to parenting. Women are still expected to do the grunt work with the kids. They don’t even like women in the echelons of upper management getting pregnant. My sibling works in the banking industry and the men are supposed to have their wives do the activities related to caring for the children. the women who are managers, well, they shouldn’t have kids.

When men get 50-50, they have got to be expected to do their part with the children. It means that when its dad’s house time, dad has to take his PTO time to drive the child to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist, tutor, etc. Corporate America doesn’t go in for that. But were talking 26 weeks out of a year that a child will be with dad. And if dad is a small business owner, like a mechanic, lawn maintenance tech, septic tech, plumber, electrician, etc. his customers won’t be too happy if he is taking care of his child instead of draining the septic tank.

I think we moms have an advantage with job flexibility even though we often take a long-term career hit. Just saying, we’ll have to change the way we do business so dads can play a more active role in their children’s lives.

Totally agree, and this will be good for everyone, including business and the economy – the more jobs and companies support humans, the more productive those humans are. Painful but necessary shift.

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 :)

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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

“… make more than women and that’s a sad reality.”

What’s sad about it? The fact that women choose not to get themselves an education in a high paying field, and dedicate themselves towards a career? Or the fact that men do?

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.

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

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.

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.

Why not? You seem fine to assume they won’t.

A massive number of men want nothing more than 50/50 shared care of their children. Theyd give up anything else in their life to have it. The women they deal are abusive, controlling, misandrists who use their children as weapons and assets.

Just because some men may not want to does not mean all the rest need to suffer from these unfair practices in the family courts.

I have to disagree with your statement completely. During my marriage my ex-wife chose her career over me and the children. On many occasions she has told me and the children that her career is more important than me and the children. I was the one the father doing the cooking the cleaning the laundry taking the kids to their events taking the kids to the park working with the kids for their homework taking them to their sporting events. But once my wife started cheating on me for 5 years and I found out then she left took my children and told the court I’m a bad father. My children try to run away to be with me and she threatened to hurt my children and told me I better give up on my children. I told my wife I wanted 50/50 parenting for the kids or just give me my kids I will raise the kids myself. My just recently ex-wife explain to me know I don’t want you to be with the kids because it’ll make the kids and you happy. So my ex left me to be with her boyfriend as soon as our divorce was Final in up her boyfriend left her. Now she’s angry at me because her boyfriend left her and she told me you will never see these kids again I will make sure you pay me for these kids to the day you die. So it’s not right to say you have to make fathers make men be parents I have been parenting my children for 12 years until my wife left me to be with someone else took my children I’m paying 55% of my income in child support and I don’t even get visitation with my children. My ex-wife explained to the judge that if the children are allowed to spend time with me I will turn the children against her. But she did tell the judge it’s okay if I pay $200 a day to see my children would she know I can’t afford. So she tells the children your father doesn’t love you if he loves you he would find a way to get the money to see you. So that’s why I have to completely disagree when you lump all men into the same category of saying forcing men to be parents forcing man to spend time with a kids I dedicated my entire life to my children. I change jobs I quit jobs just so I could spend more time with my kids. I could be making double what I’m making now but I chose jobs that centered around my children and their time so for me being a father was the most important thing in the world and still is. I am still fighting right now and Court just to give visitation to see my children for the past 9 months have been in therapy for anxiety attacks and depression because I’ve never spent more than a week away from my children I haven’t even seen my children in a year. And I come to find out my ex doesn’t even spend time with the children she spends most of her time dumping the kids and a daycare dumping them with babysitters so that she can be out with her new boyfriend’s the only reason she wants to Children is for my money and she even told me.

How does this work when the man moves out and rents a room because child support takes 30-50% of his net income. Where the ex wife has the kids the house and works too. Every situation is different this will not work. My ex gets her free checks for 63 more months I view it as a bill and nothing more,. My ex and 2 teen daughters checked out on me when I was still living with them for the kids hah, not wort it so once I got my decree I deleted them out of my life.

My advise is never get married or even live together and life will be just fine.

I totally agree. I give up, i’m an alienated dad. she gets too much money even though she doesn’t need that much, court had 2 good judges 2 bad judges, i got stuck with tons of bills from her, she still doesn’t help with transportation and I lost my place because of her greed even though she has a new partner but she chooses not to get a better paying job. and the fighting…i dont care anymore

I see it entirely different. I have 50/50 custody of my 2 daughters, yet I have to pay $1500 a month, which is soon to be increased to $ 2100 a month. My ex smokes pot regularly for recreation purposes. She works as a nail “technician” thus the large gap in income between us that Nevada sees fit to “make right” by enforcing an order on me that essentially makes me the only financial source of support for our children while I also provide 50 percent of the physical support. How is this fair? By the way, where I live, which is in a town with a large mining industry that hires women at a much higher rate per application than that of men because of, you know, diversity, may men just like me pay child support amounts, some over $3000 a month while having their children half of the time. I don’t buy the deadbeat Dad narrative as the rule instead of the exception because of how many of these hardworking men don’t abandon half physical custody where it would obviously be of financial gain to them. If Nevada were to double or triple my support order, I and the men I mention would all still fight for our kids. In fact, I’ve seen more women abandon their children in the past 10 years than I have seen men. Routinely these women pop back into their children’s lives after they turn 7 or 8 and petition for joint custody and then proceed to extrapolate child support awards from the father’s that stayed and acted as a father. I’m glad when I se the mothers return, but I am disgusted that child support is just awarded in the name of equalizing household income when there is never an equalization of the distribution of labor. Joint custody with zero support for either party will sort all of this bad behavior out, not to mention the mythical wage gap bewteen men and women which will all but disappear when all women are faced with the reality of self reliance.


Everyone is different, in my case for example me paying support for my shared custody takes time from my children because I work more to make ends meet. It also burdens me to work more because support goes up which then takes more time from my children when its equal financial obligations? My goal as a father is to be with my family. I understand not all men are that way but I’ve heard of woman on that same boat too. Why am I obligated to sacrifice my time and she isn’t? She can be a stay at home mom for her new seperate family and increase my financial obligations pulling me away from “our” children. It’s biased, broken and it’s kind of sad.

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