Shared Parenting v. Equal Parenting: 5 Ways the New Laws Will Hurt Kids

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Sad child of divorced parents looking out window.The story is all too familiar. The kids stand on the front steps, consumed by sadness. They watch their father walk toward the car. Silent tears roll down their cheeks while their dad gets in the car and drives away. As soon as he’s out of view, he chokes up and pulls over. He doesn’t want to lose his kids. But shared parenting seems like an impossible dream.

It’s scenes like this one that have fueled the Father’s Rights movement. Over the past few decades, Father’s Rights advocates have slowly been chipping away at the assumption that mothers should always have sole custody of the kids in divorce.

For years, fathers have been fighting to have an equal say in how their kids are raised. They have fought to get more time with their kids. Now, they’re fighting for something more.

They don’t just want more time with their kids. They want equal time with their kids.

Having two parents who are equally involved with their kids is a wonderful goal. But, the bigger question is: Is it a reasonable goal?

Equal Parenting Time: A Blessing or a Curse?

On the surface, equal parenting time seems supremely sensible. Research consistently shows that children benefit when both parents are a part of their lives.

What’s more, these days, both parents are usually employed outside the home. If mothers can juggle their work schedules to have their kids as much as possible, why shouldn’t fathers be entitled to do the same?

That’s the argument that has driven the Father’s Rights movement and organizations like the National Parents Organization that are aligned with that movement to draft legislation that would establish a legal presumption that both parents should have precisely equal parenting time.

50/50 is the “gold standard” that fathers across the country are so desperately seeking to establish. To make sure that they attain that equal parenting time, Fathers’ Rights groups have sponsored laws all across the country that would require courts to grant equal parenting time in virtually all cases.

Two such laws are pending in Illinois.

Law book with a judge's gavel on top of itThe Proposed Shared Parenting Law in Illinois

 In Illinois, House Bills 4113 and 5509 are currently pending in the Illinois legislature. While these bills are named “shared parenting” laws, they are really “equal parenting” laws. Both bills would establish a presumption of equal parenting in every case.

House Bill 4113 applies in divorce cases. House Bill 5509 applies in parentage actions, where unmarried parents have children together.

In order to overcome the 50/50 presumption that the new laws would establish, a parent would have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that if the other parent had 50% parenting time that would seriously endanger a child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.

In addition, if a judge awarded anything other than 50/50 parenting time, s/he would have to file a written opinion justifying his/her award.

But Illinois is not the only state with an equal parenting law pending. Similar bills with virtually identical language are pending all across the country.

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Shared Parenting Laws Across the U.S.

Over 25 states considered adopting shared parenting laws last year. More than 35 states are considering adopting shared parenting laws this year.

All of these laws have been promulgated in one way or another by the Father’s Rights movement.

In most states, the Father’s Rights groups have not been successful in getting most of these laws passed … yet. But public sentiment is changing.

Florida recently passed an equal parenting law, but the Florida Governor vetoed it. Last year Kentucky passed a law making joint physical custody and equal parenting time the norm in all temporary orders before a divorce is finalized.

Not surprisingly, women’s rights groups and domestic violence organizations are vehemently opposed to the proposed equal parenting laws. They claim that these laws will roll back the protections women have finally obtained against abusive husbands. They argue that the laws will strip the judges of any discretion, and throw the “best interests of the child” standard out the window.

Which side is right?

The truth is: Both groups are right. And, both groups are wrong. What’s more important is that both groups are focusing on the wrong question.

Sad boy whose parents are fighting over equal parenting time holding up torn stick figure picture of parentsShared Parenting v. Equal Parenting

In order to intelligently discuss the fight over shared parenting versus equal parenting, you’ve got to start by understanding what each of those terms really means.

“Shared Parenting” means that two parents share parenting rights, responsibilities and time with their kids in some proportion. Usually, shared parenting refers to situations where one parent has between 25% – 50% of parenting time. But, the definition of what is or is not “shared parenting” varies wildly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and from one research study to the next.

“Equal Parenting” means exactly what it says.  Two parents share parenting rights, responsibilities, and time with their kids 50/50.

The differences in the definitions of “shared parenting” and “equal parenting” are important to understand. The two terms are NOT the same. Yet, proponents of the new laws are using these terms interchangeably.


Perhaps one of the reasons is to garner public support for something that their cause is not. “Shared parenting” sounds like a great idea. Who these days could responsibly argue that any non-abusive parent should not share parenting rights, responsibilities, and time with their kids?

But once you start talking about requiring parents to share parenting  in exact 50/50 proportions, lots of arguments suddenly pop up. Whether those arguments are good, bad, right or wrong isn’t the point.

The point is, you can’t have an honest discussion about an issue unless you’re willing to define your terms honestly.

The same thing is true when it comes to research.

What Does Parenting Research Say?

 When it comes to parenting research, expert opinions are all over the boards. Nonetheless, for the most part, the current research shows that children benefit when their fathers actively participate in their lives.

Research also shows that conflict hurts children. Whether having to share parenting time equally creates more or less conflict in parents who already don’t get along is difficult to determine.

Right now, most of the research that has been done to date on parenting has been based upon “shared parenting,” not “equal parenting.”  That doesn’t mean that the shared parenting studies are useless. They’re not.  But they only say what they say.

You can’t use a study that examined the effect of having 25% shared parenting to support your argument that parents should have 50% parenting time. That study simply doesn’t support the conclusion you want to draw.

What Do the Proposed “Shared Parenting” Laws Say?

 If you read what’s been written about the proposed new parenting laws, it’s easy to get the wrong idea about what they really say. That’s because there’s a lot of misinformation floating around about these laws.

That misinformation starts with the titles of the laws.  While the proposed new parenting laws are often framed as “shared parenting” laws, most of them are really equal parenting laws. They require all parents, whether they were ever married or not, to divide time with their kids 50/50.

Another reason it’s easy to be misinformed about the new parenting laws is that what’s written about the laws is often very different from what the laws actually say.

The truth is, if you really want to understand what the new laws say, it’s best to read the laws themselves. If you don’t have time for that, here’s a cheat sheet of what the proposed Illinois laws, and others like it, say.

Pocket watch with chess pieces on board check mate

4 Things the Proposed Parenting Laws Change

  1. They establish a legal presumption of 50/50 parenting time. 

The new laws start by establishing a legal “presumption” of equal parenting time in all cases. In legal terms a “presumption” is not just a pretty word. It is a legal inference that the court MUST make in cases where the presumption applies.

A legal presumption strips judges of discretion and requires them to “presume” that something is true. without any proof that it is true.

The proposed shared parenting laws would require judges to presume that every parent should have exactly equal parenting time, regardless of the facts and circumstances of their case.

That’s a significant change from the current laws. The laws today don’t presume that parenting time should be equal or unequal.

  1. They change the burden of proof.

Right now, when a judge makes a decision about parenting time s/he does so based upon “a preponderance of the evidence.” That is a legal standard of proof that requires someone to prove that something is more probably true than not true. It is 50% plus one.

Under the new laws, if a judge awards anything other than 50/50 parenting time, s/he must base that award on “clear and convincing” evidence. That is a much higher legal standard of proof. It requires someone to prove that something is very probably true. That’s significantly harder to do than to prove that something is more than 50% true.

  1. They change WHAT a parent has to prove in order to deviate from strict 50/50 parenting time.

 Currently, parents need to prove that the parenting schedule they want is in the children’s best interests. Parents need to prove this no matter what kind of parenting schedule they are proposing.

Under the pending Illinois legislation, a parent wanting anything other than 50/50 parenting time would have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the other parent’s exercise of parenting time would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.

That is significantly different than requiring a parent to prove that having more or less parenting time is best for their kids.

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  1. They require written court opinions.

Finally, many of the new and proposed laws would require trial judges to write detailed written opinions justifying any award that does not grant 50/50 parenting time.

If you aren’t familiar with the court system, that requirement seems simple enough. If you are familiar with the court system, you understand that this requirement would impose a huge burden on most judges.

Given their enormous caseloads, most trial judges don’t currently provide written opinions in most cases. Writing opinions takes a lot of time.  Judges these days don’t have a lot of time. Requiring judges to start writing opinions in any case where they deviate from the 50/50 standard, would make them hesitate to order such a deviation.

That, presumably, is the point.

Children's blocks spell "Kids First."

5 Ways the Proposed Parenting Laws Will Hurt Kids

  1. The new laws put the parents’ “rights” above their children’s best interests.

The new laws would require kids to spend half of their time with each parent. Period.

The laws don’t make any exceptions for kids whose parents live hours away from each other. They don’t take into account how old the kids are, or what their relationship with either parent is like. They don’t make exceptions for the children’s needs, desires, or developmental stage.

As a matter of fact, the new laws don’t focus on the children at all. They focus solely and completely on what’s best for the parents.

That is the main problem with these laws.

The new laws would throw the “best interests of the children” standard right out the window. They leave little room for considerations of what’s best for children, or even what children want.

What do children of divorce want? While the answer obviously differs from case to case, most kids just want to be kids. They want two parents who love and care about them. They want to be able to love both of their parents and live their lives.

As Robert Emery, psychology professor at the University of Virginia, and author of Two Homes, One Childhood: A Parenting Plan to Last a Lifetime writes:

Children do not calculate percentages. Love is not divisible. Children need parents who keep their life together, across two homes, not parents who divide their lives in precisely equal halves.

Man with whiskey bottle walks toward cowering wife: Domestic violence scene

  1. The new laws endanger children in cases involving domestic violence, abuse, and neglect.

Under the new laws, judges would be required to presume an equal division of parenting time even in cases involving domestic violence. (Remember, the Illinois laws only allow judges to deviate from the 50/50 standard if a parent proves by clear and convincing evidence that the children would be seriously endangered. It says nothing about danger to the spouse.)

What’s more, requiring domestic violence victims to overcome this legal presumption by “clear and convincing evidence” is an unbelievably difficult task. At best, overcoming this presumption requires a skilled lawyer and a lot of evidence. At worst, it will never happen.

Domestic violence victims rarely have access to the money or resources that it would take to wage the kind of legal battle that would be required to prove anything “by clear and convincing evidence.”

Finally, as a purely practical matter, the only way 50/50 parenting time can work is if parents live reasonably close to each other. That means domestic violence victims would be forced to live in the same area as their abusers, and to make child-related decisions with them.

That keeps them in the danger they were trying so desperately to escape.

All things considered, the new laws would make it even less likely that domestic violence victims would ever leave their abusers.

Two upset kids with their parents arguing in the background. Parental conflict hurts kids.


  1. Parenting research does not support the new laws.

Proponents of the new laws claim that studies show that equal parenting time is best for kids.

But the studies they cite don’t talk about equal parenting time. They talk about shared parenting time.

Depending on the study, “shared” parenting time can be anything from 25- 50% of time. Those studies simply don’t support the proposition that 50/50 parenting time is really best for the kids in all cases.

At this point, there simply is not a lot of research on truly equal parenting time.

What the current research DOES indicate is that appropriate parenting plans will vary based upon children’s ages and developmental stages. An appropriate parenting plan for a teenager would be a disastrous parenting plan for an infant.

A law that requires 50/50 parenting across the board, with little room for varying the schedule based upon a child’s age or stage in life is not in line with current research.

Sad boy with divorced parents holding a help sign in front of his face.

  1. The proposed parenting laws will primarily be used by the people who are the least equipped to fight them.

 According to most experts, at least 90% of all divorce cases settle out of court. The 10% or so that go to trial are the most difficult, highest conflict, cases.

Amicably divorcing people do not need an equal parenting law.  They are able to work out their issues either on their own or with the help of a mediator or collaborative divorce professionals. They are usually able to do what is truly best for their children, regardless of whether that means that they establish a 50/50 parenting schedule, or something else.

It’s the people who can’t work things out who rely on the law and the courts to tell them what to do.

As everyone knows, litigation is expensive. Fighting your divorce case in court can cost tens, or hundreds, of thousands of dollars. Yet, the only way to challenge the proposed equal time requirement if your spouse won’t agree to a different schedule, is by fighting in court.

Poor clients and domestic violence victims don’t have the money to hire expensive lawyers. They are the people who are least able to wage a successful court battle. Yet, if equal parenting time becomes the law, these are the exact people who will likely need to challenge the law the most.

Sweating pink piggy bank with a big rock on it.


  1. The proposed parenting laws will dramatically affect child support.

In almost all states, the amount of child support a parent pays is affected by the amount of time that parent spends with his/her child. The more time a parent spends with a child, the less child support that parent pays (… or receives).

While adjusting child support based upon time spent with a child seems fair, most men still earn more than most women. Women therefore argue that if their support is reduced based upon parenting time, they won’t be able to make ends meet.

Men counter with the argument that if the kids are with them more, they should pay less in child support. They’re already supporting the kids when the kids are with them.

Both arguments are valid. Yet, both miss the point.

Tying child support payments to parenting time causes many divorcing parents to put their kids in the middle of a financial tug-of-war.

Anyone who has spent more than ten minutes in divorce court can tell you that some parents will do whatever they can to reduce the amount of child support they pay, or to increase the amount they receive. Then, once their court case is over, the parent never uses the parenting time s/he fought so hard to get.

That’s the real problem.

If these new laws are passed, more people will fight longer and harder over parenting time. They will do so not because they want to see their kids more, but because they want to pay less.


Sticky notes that say: "I love you Mom!" and "I love you Dad" show benefits of shared parenting.The Real Solution to the Shared Parenting v. Equal Parenting Problem

 The battle lines over equal parenting versus shared parenting have been drawn based on gender. The Father’s Rights movement is focused on getting equal parenting to protect “Father’s rights!” Women’s organizations favor retaining the current laws just the way they are, with shared, but not equal, parenting.

Domestic violence organizations are focused on keeping the victims of violence and their children safe. Since the proposed equal parenting laws don’t do that, the organizations oppose those laws.

Everyone involved in this issue has valid points to make. But all of the organizations are primarily focused on what is in either mothers’ or fathers’ best interests.

The real focus should be on the kids.

Every child is different. Every family is different. Unless the law is flexible, it will favor some people and disadvantage others. Inevitably, that will hurt a lot of kids.

Sad girl looking between blinds, waiting for her dad to pick her up for shared parenting time.The Proposed Equal Parenting Laws Are Not the Answer

The proposed equal parenting time laws are not only rigid. They are draconian. They will not put the children first in any situation. Passing those laws will not be best for kids.

At the same time, our current laws, and the way they are applied, is far from perfect, too.

Right now, most laws don’t explicitly favor mothers in custody or parenting battles. But, as a practical matter, in many places there is a judicial bias in favor of keeping kids with their moms. That bias, as well-intentioned as it may be, is not helpful.

It’s not that kids shouldn’t be with their moms. They should. But they should also be with their dads.

How much time kids spend with each parent should be for the PARENTS to decide.

If the parents can’t agree, then a judge will likely have to decide that for them. The judge’s decision should be based on the best research, as well as the individual characteristics of each family. It should be based on gender neutral laws applied evenhandedly to all.

If changes need to be made to the current laws to make sure that judges make their decisions in a less biased way, then THAT’S the discussion we should be having. Arguing over whether parenting time should be exactly equal or not is counterproductive.

Instead of asking, “Which parent should get more time?,” the question we should be asking is, “How can we really do what’s best for these kids?”


Head shot of Karen Covy in an Orange jacket smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin.

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches high net worth professionals and successful business owners to make hard decisions about their marriage with confidence, and to navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about decision-making, divorce, and living life on your terms. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


child custody, child support, divorce blog, divorce litigation, parenting issues, parenting plan

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  • Thank you for making us aware of this new law. It seems the law was created to limit the amount of time people spend trying to get child support from a parent who is not paying. I don’t see how this law will work. It will put a larger stress and financial burden on everyone, parents and kids. Most families these days are already spending time away from each other, from school, to other activities, now trying to schedule shared time 50/50 could create a larger burden on the family. I am in Illinois, and both of our kids are teenagers. While they are in school their primary home is with me, but their other parent close by and they try to have dinner and weekend time with the other parent. Also thanks to technology we can communicate where everyone will be and we share a calendar to help remind us of events and normal schedule changes. I couldn’t imagine the law forcing our family to change the amount of time a child spends with a parent. Our divorce is not final, but I am not asking for child support, I will continue to pay all expenses for the kids, however the agreement we have written up is that we share all decisions about the kids. From, school, health, vacations, extra activities, and anything else that comes up.

    • You’ve hit the nail exactly on the head! It sounds like you are doing your best to raise your kids in the healthiest, happiest environment with both you and your children’s other parent working together for the kids. Kudos to you!

      Clearly this proposed law wouldn’t work for your family. It won’t work for a lot of families. That’s why it shouldn’t be a law. (… in my opinion.)


      • This happened to my daughter who was not married or in a dating relationship. Hookk up, he has stalked her, she tried to have a relationship with him for her child and it turned into domestic violence, we have 50/50 order and ofp, 2 domestic charges, 2 felony stalking charges, past assault charges. 2 year old is now having trauma and needs counceling. What do you do?

        • I’m sorry to hear what’s been happening. I strongly suggest you work with a good family lawyer who really “gets it.” Turning things around will take time and cost money. There are steps you can take, but they depend on the law in your state. That’s why you need a good lawyer.

          Remember, the most important thing is protecting the 2-year-old. Get the child into counseling as soon as possible. Work with the counselor. Work with the lawyer. Do your best.

          I wish there was more I could tell you. But you’re just in a really tough situation. My heart goes out to you.


      • The reason this law works for us in Oregon is that there are no creative options outside of a “standard” parenting plan is both parents do not agree. Standard being every other weekend, etc. This was very limiting for a non-custodial parent that hardly gets to see his children. At least with the equal parenting time, a creative conversation can start. I am a divorce mediator and I consider it my job to do the reality checking on equal parenting time with the parents. Most often, equal parenting will turn into shared parenting, but, while not perfect, in my opinion, it is better than what it was.

      • Law or no law, I wish more men were like me. I am devoting my free time to putting myself through pro se law school. I will self litigate endlessly until my daughter’s voice is heard.
        I go by the playbook and still the ex is a bitter Betty making decisions based on the fact that she was left. Judges don’t adequately look at the scorned women that use kids to get back at their exes.
        I’ll be interested to see how many tens of thousands of dollars she’ll spend keeping me from equal time over the next ten years when it’ll only cost me filing fees. I already have the family law software and westlaw subscription to do court battles.
        When I retire, I will fight for men that I interview and that remind me of me. A hard working father, zero DM accusations, involved, 6 minutes from my ex, remarried with two new siblings my daughter adores, responsible, never late, FICO of 825, the list goes on and on.
        Am I upset? Obviously. When a dad has created a fantastic environment for his oldest child but a jealous ex wife can prevent him from maximizing time with her, it’s frustrating and only attributable to the sexism and bias coursing through the family court veins.

    • No offense Karen, but you have a clear incentive to keep things as they are or at the very least, to oppose any such laws. Equal time is about parent’s rights. But it is in the best interest of the child, because parents are more suited to determine the child’s best interest than any lawyer or judge. And if proving allegations and providing written justification is too much of a burden, it only proves that judges and lawyers don’t want to put in the work to make certain children and the overall family are left in the best possible position after a divorce. If fleshing out the truth is too much work, then how is justice to be discovered. That is after all the goal of any court system is it not? If not, then logic suggests that the people need to reign in the courts through their representatives. And that is what they are doing. I fired multiple lawyers during my divorce and got 50/50 on my own. I know this game and it’s about money. I just wanted to be with my kid, but that wasn’t good enough. Thanks for wasting a large chunk of my son’s college fund.

        • Kentucky has this Law. I live 4 hours from my son’s dad and I have to meet halfway to exchange every week. It takes half my income to make these trips, he was also court ordered not to pay child support. My son will not be able to go to school until this is changed and even tho I’m the primary residential custodian I’m terrified he won’t be with me during the school year because his dad has way more money than me and can afford legal representation. I’m goin to school for paralegal so I can represent myself more effectively than I did last time.

          • So you’re worried you’ll be put in most fathers situations with less time seeing your child and seeing him on weekends? If he has more money to care for your child then it’s logical for him to care for him if you need the help. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

          • Seeing your kids on weekends and being broke is a real pain in the butt, isnt it? This is why father’s want justice.

      • Chris,
        I am fighting for 50/50 on my own in IL. What’s the best way to
        accomplish this?
        Thanks for all and any info.

      • Hey Chris you nailed it..the game is called who can get the most dime out of a parent usually the fathers..she diffenantly is misleading with her imformation and doest show any facts with her info…” THE CHILDS BEST INTEREST ” should be thrown out determining custody cases. How can a judge know what better for your kid when they don’t know them and most cases never talk to them…her 5 reasons that new law changes are trying to mislead every parent to what is actually happening and that the family courts use our children to put money in their own pockets…CHILD SUPPORT needs to be addressed to what it really is…it falls under title 4D social security act and was introduced over 40 years ago when women were not the bread winners and and yes the man made a lot more….fast forward 40 + years and the feminist movement…women have a lot more power and make as much as most males. Karen talks about domestic violance. And the agencies that are fighting for laws not to change…what she doesn’t mention is there are only 2 government funded protection safe places for men..that’s it just 2. I’m getting off point and I tend to do this bc its just not about equal shared parenting issues.. Its about men’s/fathers rights and issues…the white male is the leading race of suicide. Males are dropping out of college way more the females…back the the family judicial branch…Karen what happens when parents don’t need you lawyers anymore bc of these new law changes…and we are talking about presumption here and that’s both loving parents that live by code to do whatever is best for their kids…talking about abusive parents or parents that sent stable is a different situation and that’s when a jury trial should be used…not when a father or mother want to be involved in their kids lives and will do anything for guys try to misinform your clients and take advantage of inocint dads, children and mothers. Now ill touch on child support to quickly…I’m from mn and they receive 5 incentive to enforce cs…the more they enforce the more they make. The more orders they enforce the more they make…the make so much on the dollar and on top of that they will be reinvest 68% of all salarys that get involved with cs. The problem is our outdated, broken, biased, bullshit family court system. The only fix for all this is for you people to stop brainwashing and intimintating mothers and fathers and let them on their own figure out what’s best for our nations future, our own children. Stop with all the corrupt bullshit and go out and make an honest living and stop screwing over our kids. There is a reason why every state bar associations do not want these new laws passed.

          • I am going through a divorce right now and the ex and I are trying to make the right decisions regarding custody. We stated that we want to share custody, 50/50, he is pushing me to put that on paper for my attorney but when my attorney tried to write up a mock schedule based on child’s availability because of high school cheerleading it ended up being more of a 80/20 time split and her dad hit the roof! I didn’t feel comfortable with putting 50/50 of on paper it seems like she would be with me like 80 percent of the time. I am fine with him seeing her whenever he wants, she wants, and when her schedule permits but don’t want her being shuffled from house to house. In three more years she will be in college! I am confident that we can come to some sort of an agreement but not sure I understand why I have to say 50/50 when it is clearly not given the amount of time that she will truly be with her dad. Their relationship is also aged because of infidelity that she found about about and told me and she still has a lot of resentment towards him. I am afraid this is going to go to mediation and she will tell someone exactly what she thinks of dad and then she is going to have to go through reunification counseling with him. We want to keep this out of the courts but how can I agree to this 50/50 shared custody when it clearly is not? What benefit is there for him, me? I feel like I am being hoodwinked.

          • Keeping this out of the court system is a good thing. On the other hand, it sounds like you need some help sorting this out.

            If your daughter really doesn’t want to go with her father, then getting them both into therapy would be a good idea. I don’t know if “reunification therapy” is what they need, but if their relationship is damaged, they may need some kind of professional help to try to work through their problems and get past those issues.

            I know that your daughter may not want to engage in that kind of therapy right now. But the truth is that children benefit from having a relationship with both of their parents. Plus, there are clearly issues in your daughter’s relationship with her father. Those issues are not going to magically disappear. It is much better for your daughter to get to the bottom of what those issues are now, and to work through them, than it will be to let them fester for years and have her try to deal with them decades later as an adult.

            As for the parenting time, a good mediator may be able to help you sort through the real issues and perhaps reach an agreement. (NOTE: Going to mediation is NOT the same as going to court.)

            Why does your husband want 50/50 time? You’d have to ask him that question. There are a lot of reasons that could be coming into play. Maybe your husband doesn’t realize how much time cheerleading takes. Maybe he doesn’t want to feel like a part time dad. (Regardless of whether 50/50 is workable, 80/20 doesn’t leave him with much time at all.) Maybe child support is an issue. (In many states the amount of child support that is paid/received depends on how much time each parent spends with the time.)

            The one thing I can say is that the two of you should be honest with each other. (Yes. I know you’re divorcing each other. Contrary to what most people think, that doesn’t mean you have to lie to each other!) Whatever the child support schedule is on paper, THAT should be the child support schedule in reality. It makes no sense to have one parenting time schedule on paper, and another one in reality.

            Hope this helps.

          • Most of these responses are pre-divorce so you have no idea what’s going to happen once he/she starts getting the child support checks…. welcome to my world, the ex and I said we’d work it out and never deny each other time with the kids. Only a month after the amicable divorce and me agreeing to 80/20 plus any extra time I wanted we started doing 50/50. We live a mile apart, same school district, never any neglect, abuse etc….. it was fair and equal with no issues for 10 straight months doing rotating week custody. Then when I decided to modify what time-sharing we were actually doing for the past 10 months the ex lawyered up since she realized the child support would go down and the judge ruled in her favor and we are back to 50/50 with no right to request additional time. My ex has worked a total of 6 months her entire 36 year life, refused to go to school, refuses to work etc….. Florida law is mother’s first and fathers last. The judge should be required to write a “why not 50/50” statement for the denied modifications. They are obviously abusing their discretion and nobody cares. And…. it’s kindof wrong that since I’m the only one working that my child support payments are actually being used to pay her lawyer to fight me on this issue and I cannot afford my own lawyer to defend myself.

        • To the guy who said “a jury trial” shall decide. . You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. There is no jury in family law.

          Kids shouldnt have to be a product of their fathers need for control. They arent a pawn and they dont owe you an ego stroke. Funny how its always the men who feel cheated by child support laws, even if they do get 50/50 equal time.

          • Amber – Yes, they do have jury trials in family law. It sounds like you are speaking of your own experience. There are a lot of women who have a need for control and use children as pawns.

          • This article is clearly written to support lawyers and the DIVORCE INDUSTRY they’ve created and control to the detriment of the best interest of children. These are the same empty arguments the bar associations use to dissuade politicians. Most of it is factually inaccurate and if not misleading, it is completely false. There are exceptions for all the issues you mention because we are forced to include them by domestic violence groups, dhs, ocse, the bar association, and representatives of the courts who all stand to make MORE money via title IVd funding in direct relation to child support assigned and collected. The author, the courts, and the legal professionals that make up the industry do not care about the children. They care about maintaining status quo in the name of maximizing profit by minimizing one parent to maximize support awards. These arguments are false, empty , and fraudulent and the lawyers that make them know that. It’s time that the rights of children to equal time with both parents are respected. It’s time that what’s best for children and families becomes the focus of FAMILY courts and not the maximization of profit for legal professionals including lawyers and judges(lawyers wearing black robes). This article is nonsense and the author sadly knows it but continues to support the extortion of children for personal monetary gain of a privileged class or club while Destroying the constitutional rights of non custodial parents to equality Under the law and to parent their children as guaranteed by our constitution. To be honest it sounds criminal on behalf of the bar association and the politicians they’ve bought to prevent not only passage of, but required hearings of bills in the legislature. These are bills that have been put forth for two decades or more and garner 80 percent or more of the public support. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem. (Child extortion)

      • I disagree with you Karen. Chris N. you are right on! Peter, good luck with your dicorce. May you win your 50/50 share of your children.
        Divorce should start with splitting the children equally, 50/50. If there are family issues, let there be proof to determine those issues before an unfair decision changes a persons entire life. My son’s divorce was finalized just as the new July 1, 2017 “shared income” bill was approved in Illinois. This bill is solely based on money and NOT the best interest of the children. His ex, who cheated on him, won primary custodial priveledges only because she was a “stay at home mom”. This stay at home mom has her masters degree and refuses to work when all 3 children are now in school. How is this fair? The GAL awarded her the majority of overnights leaving my son with just under the 146 required number of overnights under this new bill, which I find outrageously wrong! What is the difference if he got 50/50 which he pleaded for or 60/40 leaving him without seeing his children 9/14 days/nights. Its all about the money! They are his children also whom he loves very much and they love and miss him very much! The decision was made by a GAL who “supposedly” did what she called her “investigations” by sitting with my son and his ex for 30 minutes each. Those 30 minutes changed my sons life forever because of money which the number of overnights determines. His ex is a pathological liar who would stop at nothing to take the kids away, not because she wanted them, but out of spite. She lied and told the GAL he was a disengaged father which is so very far from the truth. My son is and always has been very active with the children, coaches their sports, attended school activities, drs. Appts. and anything else the children required. He is a great Dad and loves his children! However, the GAL went no further and did no work for the hefty sum of $5000 she soaked my son for. My son pleaded for a 50/50 split, not for the money, but because he couldn’t bare to be without his kids for one night let alone 9/14 nights, but it was all about the money, not for the best interest of the kids. His ex lived like a queen and stopped working 2 years into their 10 year marriage. She started hanging out with her 3-time divorced girlfriend who introduced her to the bars and her current boyfriend, a firefighter who got her pregnant but then lost the child. At the time the 3 children ranged in ages from 2-6. I won’t go into all the nasty details that she put my son through with her cheating and lies, but she now enjoys a 4 bedroom home that was purchased with her alimony settlement, child support (that will last past the age of his retirement,) vacations every couple of months, and doesn’t have to go to work! My son has no savings left, had to give up his car, pay alimony, pay child support, and share half his retirement savings while she flaunts her 2 carrot diamond ring that her and her now fiance purchased when she cashed in the ring my son bought her. Her boyfriend, has no problems (or morals) breaking up families, driving my sons car, and living in the house that was purchased with my sons alimony payment. They had no problems getting it on during the day when my son was working 10 hour days to support the family. She would even drop the 2 year old off at her parents to go have her affairs! Why does all this no longer matter in Illinois? He had proof! The current laws are so unfair to fathers and need to be changed, now, and the fairest way to start is with a 50/50 split. Both parents should contribute to child support.

          • Why do you keep saying thank you for sharing your opinions to people who are telling their stories that are on the opposite side of your claims. If you believe strongly about what you wrote about how this law would hurt children and the laws should not pass (btw, I am writing this after the law has already passed), why don’t you respond to them by counter argument that is supporting your claims. If you go to court and the other party spends time explaining their situations like some of the fathers here, are you going to say thank you for sharing your opinions? I am not understanding why someone would write an opinion and then do not defend it, then why write the whole thing?

      • You’re 100% correct. The author here seems completely content with the status quo. She prefers a corrupt system where a man has to prove he’s a father while at the same time a woman can wrap herself in the flag of motherhood and use it like a shield and at the same time use it as a hammer to smash her ex. Men who advocate for these laws want to simply enjoy the luxurious woman have enjoyed for decades. Namely, the presumption that you’re a good parent and that your children benefit from being with you. Meanwhile I have to spend my retirement to earn from the courts what was already endowed by God.

      • Well said. Glad to have stumbled on this site. The system is corrupt it births more ignorance and dysfunction all for the love of money.

    • Any argument that giving fathers equal time and reducing child support accordingly would hurt the child is ridiculous. What it would do is allow fathers to care and provide for their children in the way that they want to, the same way they were doing before their families were torn apart. Torn apart far more times by mothers than fathers. It would also make mothers who are using way too much of the support paid by the father to support themselves. Too many custodial mothers are living off the child support in place of getting at least a part time job. Could go on and on over this issue but will end with this—in every area concerning gender equality (jobs, pay ect. women argue that they are equal and I agree they are. The area of child custody and child support is absolutely the only time they want to sit back and allow gender equality to exist without a fight to stop it. The majority of time it is about retaining control over the child and the money. The new laws are LONG overdue!

    • 50/50 is best for kids with high conflict parents.

      Studies have shown equal time is best for children, but also even better for coparents who do not get along well, whenever one or both refuse to compromise and communicate with one another.

      When parents have equal time, there is less need for constant communication because the parents are involved in their childrens day to day, activities and school in a frequent and meaningful way.
      As a bonus, studies have shown parents who do not get along well actually begin to get along and cooperate more often than not after sharing equal time.
      It literally removes a variety of contentious situations that occur with standard visitation/primary parent models.

      Why do you think courts are chalk full of decent law abiding, loving, present and fit parents fighting in custody battles everyday across America?
      It’s because the “standard” that 80% of divorced parents currently have doesnt work well and it hasnt for a long time.
      It worked 50 years ago and was set up based on how things were prior to that. Mom stayed home, dad worked and thats just how things were.
      Times changed soon after. Women started working. Men started caring for the kids.
      The fact is. Times changed but laws didnt. This left childrens best interests on the back burner.

      Why do you think the state bar associations in every state oppose equal time?
      It’s because having clients to represent are their bread and butter. If they did what’s best instead of what leads to guaranteed litigation for years to come, then family law wouldn’t be a billion dollar business that is more lucrative to practice than any other area of law there is.
      And of course there is the state. The incentives they recieve for ordering and collecting child support due to Title IV-9 of the social security act. I will get into that in another article. Child support and how our children are being used for states to get rich is worthy of a decision all to itself.
      Face it. When you take two pple who just broke up…..what are the chances that tossing money and control in the mix known as custody is going to help things get better anytime soon?

      Anyone who has children or has an influence on childrens lives should really do their homework. Court ordered fatherlessness in my opinion is THE biggest problem in the United States today. Again, the biggest.
      Our children are our future and their childhood is the most precious and influential time of their life. It’s up to us as adults to ensure their needs and best interests are met so they can grow up healthy and happy with the tools needed to tackle this world and become successful, well rounded memebers of society.

      Right now we are failing at record numbers. Just look around. The homes we come from impact all of us. Lets give our children better. We may not be able to fix this in time for it to help us, but if you have children… you owe it to them to do everything we can to ensure they never face this should God forbid they have children with someone and it not work out.
      No parent that is fit and present should EVER have to fight in court to be a parent.

      • WOW. You are oblivious. To think it is beneficial for a child to have 50/50 shared parenting time in a high conflict case baffles me. Our son has been exposed to police at nearly 50 exchanges. Dad has filed multiple false DCS investigations and attempted to press changes for identity theft and later stalking. All of which were dropped because I have never done anything wrong. Dad continuously violates the court order. Shows up hours late to exchanges and leaves me and my oldest child waiting in a car for him to show up with our son. He takes our child out of state without telling me. Even has had out of state trips cross into my parenting time. He takes him to doctors without telling me. I don’t even know what insurance he has right now. He does not allow any communication between our child and myself when our son is with him. Our son has told me abusive things Dad has done when he is there to which I address and Dad denies. This is NOT good for our child. Yet the courts continue to allow it. It is by far THE WORST thing you could put a child through. This is not about the child. Its about the father having equal rights. And lets be real…some parents (mothers or fathers) should NOT have equal rights.

    • It appears that you and the other parent have agreed to your schedule and no child support, thus there would be no need to go to court and this law would not change your situation. It would only potentially change your situation if you did not agree on the parenting/custody schedule and child support.

  • What a horrendous law. It appears to codify what many ex-spouses had attempted to do in the past to avoid paying more child support. (Many years ago when I filed for an increase in child support I was challenged by a full custody battle, only to have my ex “settle” for a 50% visitation arrangement and a lesser increase in the child support. The attorney bills were outrageous.)

          • Of course not. Money first. Rights second. The goal here is always to extract the most out of the non custodial parent as possible.

          • If you see your children less, you should pay less! My sons Ex uses the child support for her lavish vacations every couple of months, not for the children. The children are always sent in rags to their father so he has to not only pay child support but rebuy clothes, shoes, coats, etc. She says child support only pays for a roof over her head. Well he has to pay for a roof over his head too when he has the kids! Mothers should provide proof of what they’re using child support for and be required to go to work!

    • Karen showed her true colors here by agreeing with the woman who said it’s only about getting out of child support. When another alienating father commits suicide, do they cheer in her office? Sure seems like it, except there isn’t any more money to get or pain to inflict then.

    • It appears that most of these responses refer a lot to child support. This is the biggest issue. When two parents are divorced they both still have to pay for rent/mortgage weather or not they have primary custody or not. If the kids are seen by both parents equally then why should one have to pay the other? The one comment about traveling 2 hours to meet the dad 1/2 way. The dad is doing the same “equal” traveling. It seems that this article just “assumes” all mothers should automatically be the primary and all dads are not as equal as the mother. My children’s mother and I fought like crazy for the first two to three years. I did not fight to hard on the support issue because it is like fighting a 10 foot thick brick wall. I instead was fighting for as much time with my kids as possible. All three of my kids are involved in sports all at the same time and in different locations so I see my kids a ton now. My ex and I have been able to communicate a lot better now since I did my best to not argue over the little things and just reserve it for more important issues. Just some more info I am in Massachusetts and I do have around a 60/40 split in the agreement but like I said with the sports I see them a lot more than a piece of paper says too. I feel it should be a 50/50 split to start but if one parent or the other can prove some sort of reason to not have that equal split then a judge has the right and obligation to change that. We talk about equal rights when it comes to race religion sex and everything thing else going on in this world and if anyone disagrees with equal rights in those cases then you are labeled “racist” “bigot “” homophobe” and I bet most of you openly support equal rights for those issues. But the people who are fighting for the laws to NOT to be changed to be equal are mothers rights heros. See the irony?

  • If my ex-wife moving out of country with my 3 years old and half daughter, what can I do. I got 50/50 joint custody of my daughter.
    Thanks in advance!

    • You need a lawyer NOW! If your ex insists on moving out of the country with your daughter, the only way to legally stop her is to get a court order preventing her from going. (Sorry.) Meanwhile, if you can keep your daughter’s passport with you, that will also help!


  • Due to the proven fact that women make less money than men, this law validates how men continue to starve women and children and women suffer again. They bypass obligations to monetarily support their children. It forces children to live in suitcases and without stability of having one home! Once again America has lowered their standards and creating a mess for the future.

    • We live in 2018, I have always made more money than my children’s father. There are a lot of women who are very educated and make enough money to support their families. I worked 2 jobs while going to school to get where I am. I think its pathetic that a woman uses her child for a pay check. The fact that a woman feels that if she doesn’t get child support she cant make ends meet is asinine, you are supposed to support your child not the other way around. What would you do if you didn’t have a kid stay at home so your parents can support you. You have a kid it’s time to grow up.
      Most of the time when these shared parenting or equal parenting laws are needed is when one parent gets upset because their ex is moving on and most of the time it is women who then claim that this man they once adored and cherished is now the most heinous person alive and makes up false allegations so that they can take the child away from their father. Yes there are horrible fathers just as there are horrible mothers but just because you are jealous is no reason to hurt a child. The laws as they stand today say that no matter what a mother is the better parent and women and their attorneys use this outdated thinking to their advantage. We as women want equal rights but don’t want the responsibility that comes with it. It means get out and do what you have to do to make ends meet for your child without relying on the father to pay your bills for you and unless that man is a horrible father to the child, not that he was a horrible husband two different things, put your pettiness to the side and allow the child equal time with their father.

      • I agree that when one spouse moves on the other often gets upset. I also agree that there are really horrible (and really amazing) parents of both genders.

        I’m not aware of any laws today say that no matter what a mother is a better parent, though. Most of the laws that I’m aware of are gender neutral. If there are laws that say the mother should get the children in all circumstances, no matter what, I would agree with you that those laws should be changed. Absolute rigidity like that in any law will end up being unfair.

        Families need flexibility. So does the law.

        As for your views on child support, I appreciate your sharing your perspective. It’s interesting to see someone who is a custodial parent, has 50/50 parenting time with her ex, and won’t take child support. That you can do that is great. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to do the same.

        Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone shouldn’t do their best to support themselves. But, child support is for the kids. So, when not getting child support means that the kids have to go without, that’s when it’s a problem. At least, that’s my opinion.


        • Karen,
          The problem is that the systems are broken and do not allow good fathers 50/50 time with their kids…If they weren’t broken and it was truly about the kids staying primarily with the most capable parent, then the primary resident percentages for each gender would be close to 50%. Unless you are claiming that men, by nature are horrible parents. The only way to ensure the best interests of the children is taken into account is to force it. I understand that it creates other problems, but Women’s Groups, who care more about how much money they can extort, and lawyers, who only care about how much they charge, are the reason we are here today.
          I know that almost all legal firms in Illinois are against the new law and it’s clear why:
          Less reliance on GALs and child advocates to pad pocket books.
          Significantly less litigation to pad pocket books
          AND the positives?
          Less litigation, shorter divorce process and both parents have more money for their children post divorce
          Less ability for primary parent to alienate the other; better for kids
          Children are not used as a method of extortion; better for everyone (except money hungry ex)
          Less chance of post divorce litigation; better for kids
          So in summary, lawyers want money are willing to use children as their weapon of choice. It’s deplorable.

      • Rhonda, I couldn’t have said it better myself. You hit the nail on the head exactly. I have seen it from both sides. I am living proof that it is actually MORE expensive to care for a child(ren) when they are living with you, so I call B.S. on these claims that Fathers are only asking for more time to avoid paying more support. I totally agree with you that BOTH parents created the child. The child is 50% of EACH parent, therefore, each parent should grow up and take equal responsibility for all aspects of raising that child – physically and financially. Yes, the child support money is supposed to be for the kids, if each parent has the child on an equal basis, then the money will be used for that child while in either parent’s care and they will not be going without. So sick of seeing the kids be used as a way to hurt the ‘losing’ parent both financially and emotionally. That is what the current system allows to happen on a daily basis and it NEEDS to change.

      • I really enjoyed how you explained the law. I know a lot of people bashed it, but I respect you. You responded very well too! ???? Any advice how I can see that my child attends school with me? We have this exact law in my state. It’s horrible. I protested it. He had a DVO against him and still got 50/50 with us living 4 hours apart and my son being 5 months old. My son is 3. I’m on unpaid medical leave and don’t receive child support. There is no way I can afford a lawyer. What can I do? I know it’s had a negative impact on my son. He has always had extreme separation anxiety and hits and kicks his dad when we exchange. I never speak I’ll of his dad. I just spend all my time with him and hes dad works so much he can’t. It’s obvious it’s not in my child best interest. What do I do?

        • All you can do is work with a lawyer and try to get your court order changed. Since I’m not licensed to practice law in any state other than Illinois, I can’t give you legal advice on what to do. But it sounds like legal advice is what you need. Even if you can’t get a lawyer to represent you in your case, you may be able to pay for just an hour of a lawyer’s time and consult with him/her. That’s really your best bet.

          I’m sorry. I don’t have any answers for you. This is a really difficult, sensitive topic. As you can see from all of the comments here, unfortunately there aren’t any easy answers.


    • Yes they are! Everyone can support their home without robbing another person. But why should they want too when we have a court system that will rob the father for you! I had to FIGHT to make sure my Ex- husband was never screwed over with child support. If you have children IDC MARRIED OR NOT, You better be able to support y’all alone!

    • About one quarter of women make more than their spouse now, and that percentage is growing. More women than men graduate from college now in the US. One size fits all support standards simply don’t fit today’s society.

  • I hope that law pass. So, the woman stop use the law to get child support and use the law always favorite to the woman to get custody of the child. Thanks!

  • An interesting article… an honest one though? Nope.
    Not once did you mention the financial facts of your practice. Please post a photo of your home and tax returns for the past 20 years so we can see your stake in this law.
    Also, not once did you or the ISBA actually produce any tangible solutions to your admission that current laws are ineffective.
    I hate how you lawyers like to point to “amicable divorces” and “90% of all divorce cases settle”. That is NOT because dads love the time we get, that’s because of the reality you literally just admitted to. If I told you, sure, you can try to run for President, but it’s going to cost you millions of dollars and your life will be scrutinized, only a handful of people are seriously considering that route. That’s what happened to me. My divorce attorney said, ‘sure, you can go to trial to “ask” for more time. However, this judge prefers moms and you have virtually no chance of anything more than every other weekend.
    Thus, I became one of your “90%”.
    You can’t bash HB 4113, while also bashing the current laws/court reality without posting your solution. It’s irresponsible journalism/blogging. If you are such an expert, rise up, save the day with the perfecr solution.
    Oh, and if you do, please make it stick more than the new parenting plan rule that few cases actually utilize.
    Until then, HB 4113 is certainly in the best interest of the child. My child and I are tired of being punished for a small percentage of situations that HB 4113 would adversely affect. HB 4113 protects kids from selfish mothers and biased judges (who are too busy to write an opinion).

    • I’m sorry for what happened to you. It sounds like you are very unhappy about what happened in your divorce. I can understand that. The problem is that the laws that are proposed are beyond extreme. They will make divorce so much worse for so many people, especially children. I’ve laid out why, in detail, in this article.

      Our divorce system is far from perfect. You asked me for “the perfect solution.” I wish I had one. Sadly, I’m not God and I’m not perfect. I don’t presume to have all of the answers. But, I believe that, if we could get people together and start having discussions about the problems instead of positional arguments, together we could hopefully craft a much better system than the one we have now. I would be happy to be part of that discussion, if it ever happens.

      Would the system that we co-create as divorce professionals and concerned parents be “perfect”? Probably not. We’re all still human. But hopefully, we could create a system that would be better. That’s a start.


      PS Btw, for someone who is so interested in having me post my personal income tax returns (which have nothing to do with this law) on the internet, I find it interesting that you didn’t even post your real name.

  • Karen,
    Thank you for the thought provoking article.
    I went through the custody/access battle several times over the 19 years of my daughter’s childhood. I have the benefit of time, experience and hindsight, when I review what has been written here.
    If we are looking at what is truly best for the children, would it not be better to examine what we can do to keep marriages together in the first place? As one relationship expert pointed out to me, “Divorce works for the parents but it is a disaster for the children”.
    On more than one occasion, my legal counsel stated it simply, “Sorry. You’re a man.” as they tried to convince me to accept the every other weekend and Wednesday’s access schedule that has been typical over the last 20 years. Considering my finances were in a shambles, further depleted by a carved-in-stone child support amount, I could not afford to fight for more and in the end I “lost” and my ex-wife “won” the legal battle. I was left to try my best to parent with limited access and hard feelings. I have not been perfect in doing this, and I think my daughter suffered as a result of being caught in a tug-of-war for many years. Looking back, I can’t help but feel the default legal position hurt my family.
    I judge that the historic custody/access default that I mention does very little to keep marriages together. In my judgment, a 50/50 default would certainly encourage separating parents to negotiate their differences as there is no clear advantage to either parent if they don’t. It isn’t perfect either, and I fully agree with the gist of your article. Every situation is different. But I think it IS progress.
    And the courts would prefer to not get involved when other avenues are available. Just maybe this change may keep more couples from trying to resolve their differences in court. Perhaps this would clear the way for those that really need judges and lawyers when the power struggle puts those others in danger. Perhaps the courts could do a better job protecting children from abusive households if they were not overburdened with couples unwilling to resolve their differences using couples counselling and/or mediation.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I can tell from what you’ve written that you’ve been through a lot. You seem to know the system all too well.

      I’ll try to address your points in order.

      First would keeping marriages together help children more? In most cases, yes. However, in high conflict marriages, or families that are experiencing domestic violence, my answer would be different. Keeping those marriages together will NOT help the kids. As a matter of fact, it can hurt them more. Studies have repeatedly shown that conflict hurts kids. So, not every marriage is good for kids.

      But I agree with you that kids would often benefit if their parents stayed together. At the same time, I’m a realist. If people want to divorce, they’re going to divorce. Making it harder for them to do so by mandating a 50/50 default parenting time arrangement may keep some people together. But, if that’s the only reason they don’t divorce, their marriage is probably going to be pretty horrible. Is that really good for kids? I don’t necessarily think so. As the child of parents who never should have stayed married, but did so “for the kids,” I can tell you from experience, it’s not always the best solution.

      As far as the “default legal position” being that the mom gets the kids, unfortunately, I think you’re right on that count. That’s not the case in every court in every area, but in the past few decades, it has been the unwritten rule in far too many courts. You may be interested to know that it wasn’t always that way.

      Back in the 1800’s, children were considered to be their father’s property. In time, mothers were allowed to petition the court to get custody of children where were 7 years old or younger. Eventually, that age expanded to 16. Then later that grew into the “tender years” doctrine, which said mothers were better suited to care for children in their “tender years.” That then morphed into the judicial bias that mothers should always have custody of the kids.

      Now the tables are starting to turn again.

      While I know you may disagree, I see that judicial bias as changing. At least, that has been my experience in the court system. The bias that exists in some places now isn’t nearly as strong as it was 20 years ago. But, when you’re the one who has been denied the access you want to your child, the fact that fewer judges are biased than before doesn’t help you.

      The problem I see with the laws that have been proposed is that they are way too extreme. They are, quite honestly, the most extreme laws I’ve ever seen in current family law history. I think they would be horrible, for all of the reasons I stated in this article. But, just because passing the proposed laws would, in my view, be a gigantic mistake, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem that needs to be addressed.

      I just don’t think these laws are the best way to address it.

      I’m not a fan of legal presumptions in any arena. But if states adopted a rebuttable presumption that parents should strive to have 50/50 time whenever it was in the best interest of the children, AND there were exceptions in any case involving domestic violence, that might get us closer to putting both parents on even footing. But that presumption has to be flexible. It can’t strictly apply in all cases, and judges have to have discretion.

      Is my solution perfect? Of course not. But I think it would be a step in the right direction.

      I also think that it would be wonderful if we could start creating thoughtful dialogue about these problems. Rather than the people on each side of this debate demonizing each other, they need to start talking and listening to each other. If they did that, maybe collectively we could come to a better solution than what we’ve got now.

      Thanks again for you comment. I appreciate your perspective.

      • “But I agree with you that kids would often benefit if their parents stayed together. At the same time, I’m a realist. If people want to divorce, they’re going to divorce. Making it harder for them to do so by mandating a 50/50 default parenting time arrangement may keep some people together. But, if that’s the only reason they don’t divorce, their marriage is probably going to be pretty horrible. Is that really good for kids? I don’t necessarily think so. As the child of parents who never should have stayed married, but did so “for the kids,” I can tell you from experience, it’s not always the best solution.”

  • Thank you for this article. It helps me understand how really messed up the law is. In a perfect world this would be a perfect law. But we live far from a perfect world. I really hope it doesn’t continue to pass as a victim of DV. Our kids would be the ones to suffer until I can find the funds and “clear and proving” evidence that he isn’t a fit father. Or he just abandons them again and leaves me with little to no child support to raise our kids.

    This law will also make it perfect for parents that don’t want to pay child support. They get awarded 50/50 – never use their parenting time and thus never pay their share of child related expenses and then who ends up paying for it? The other parent. Then who suffers because that parent is barely making ends meet? The children. I hope this doesn’t pass. It very much so ignores the kids and assumes that every parent is a good parent and will actually use and pay for their time.

    Also one of my children doesn’t take a bottle and is exclusively breastfeed. This bill would essentially force him to starve while his other parent takes care of him. Does that sound like it’s in the best interest of this child? No. People that think this law is a good solution don’t think about situations other than their own.

    • I agree completely! Thank you for sharing your opinion.

      Unfortunately, the bill that’s pending in Illinois just passed the committee and is now going to be considered by the full House of Representatives. I assume that the same thing will happen in other states as well. (If it doesn’t happen this year, these bills will likely just be put up again and again and again. They’re not going away.)

      If you are interested in this subject at all, I urge you to make your voice heard with your state representatives and Senators, whoever they are.

      • If you agree with her post, your are agreeing with very disgusting extreme sexism against men. Unreal. You are again suggesting that dads want equal time with their kids, to get out of child support. Simply disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      • Good day to all. My daughter went through all this in Arizona. She went through a marriage where everything was run on her financial stability because her man had a low credit score because of decisions he made earlier in his life(he didn’t like responsibility) which we found out when they wanted to buy a house. He wanted to be 4 doors down from his sister(who never visited them in the 4 years they lived there. He liked to wear high dollar clothes and go out a lot. Her income is what made the bills. His income was for him to do whatever he wanted. The car and house were in her name but he would not “allow” her to drive her car unless given permission, she was not allowed to visit her friend 2 houses down, she was not allowed to visit her family, when she would try to get out with neighbors in a child group- he would call her, ask where she was and tell her she needed to be home. When my daughter had the child there were complications- she had an emergency c-section and had to stay an extra 4 days.She took maternity leave from work- which was paid. The father took time off work and stayed at the hospital and never came to see the newborn at our home. my daughter was home for 5 days and got ill(uterine infection) She had to stay in the hospital for another 4 days -Me as the grandmother, took care of the child even then, the father sat around and wanted to play board games or games on the TV. She was instructed to rest and not lift over 10 lbs for the next 4 weeks- the child weighed 10lb 4oz when she was born- I stayed to help her out and all the dad would say was- When are you going back to work, you need to go back. This was because his days off ended and he had to return to work. From there out they agreed she should stay home because of the cost of daycare. All her income would be gone. He took a night job at a bar to bar back and worked 3 nights a week- it was suppose to be money for the family but he came home and told her he was getting new golf clubs or a shot gun or all new camping gear and all the booze he wanted- it was his money and he earned it. All this time we as grand parents are to buy food and diapers. As a year goes by our grandchild and I have built a great relationship- a soft place for her. When I would leave their house from a visit I would always leave her in a happy state, with a smile on her face and walk out the room to leave. As soon as I would get to my car he would bring her to the door and say” see, grandma is leaving you here” and wait till she started to cry and close the door. Who does that? A narcissist does that. Control. They want to control everything……When my daughter decided to leave him, she moved in with us and took nothing. She just wanted out. A few days later she drew $60.00 out of their acct to buy diapers and formula for the baby- he drove 50 miles to come to the door and tell her he was there to get the money back, it was not hers to take. Us as grandparents paid for everything. She was with us for 4 months before she filed for divorce and he never came to see her or the child. When he was handed papers he demanded his time with his child. He told her that if he spent time with the child he would not have to pay child support and she would get NO moneys from him. When she filed she asked for no child support, just to be free of him and yes, she wanted custody of the child. It took a year to go through the divorce, in the mean time her daughter at age 2 would call her a mean mom because she would tell her her dad was coming to get her and that she would be back in 2 days. She cried and it was so heart wrenching watching her go. She would come back with her lips all red from chewing on them. When she was 3 she would be playing on the floor with her uncle and all of a sudden she would crawl under the table and he would ask her what was wrong, he was not playing rough. She would reply that you never knew if you were going to get hurt because daddy played rough with her. The child is 11 now and still fears being at her dads but the new law was put in place the year they got a divorced and it was spilt 50/50. He agreed to let her go to another state for 2 years to get her schooling- as long as he did not have to pay any child support while she was there. She agreeded with no hesitation. The child played sports, was in a local theater, she played outside all the time, had a horse and other pets. When she returned because the time period ended, all this ended for the child. They went to court to redo the custody- all he could say was -NO I did not call her the whole time she was gone, No I didn’t put her in any sports, No I don’t have time to do things with her because I work, No I don’t care for her when she is with me, my girlfriend will be her soul provider, YES, I do try to keep her from her mom, YES I do talk bad about her mom, YES, the child will do what I tell her to do. He has a girlfriend that is just like him. When our grand daughter is with her mom, she has a freedom to be herself- when she goes to take her back to her dads, she has had to pull off the road because the child gets physically sick. But the courts say that this is what’s best for the child- I agree there are some great dads out there. But a child should not have to live this way. She won’t even talk to her dad, she just has to agree with everything that happens. We called her last night and she had to ask if she could do a headstand in the hall and he said “only 1” what’s that????????????? Oh yeah, he wants her to pay him the child support, he said he would keep watch to make sure how much she’s making and he would be coming after that. And here it is 5 years later.

  • Divorce hurting kids anyway, no matter what! Most of the time of divorce, woman the one whose file the divorce. The Farther always have less time with the kids in divorce. And the Farther usually whose the one paying child support. A lot of innocent Father suicide, because they are not able to paying child support. It is not fair for the Farther. I hope this law passed. If this law passed, the lawyer will be the one whose crying. Why? The Mother and The Farther don’t have to fight in the court. So, the lawyer won’t make a lot of moneys like before. Just my 2 cents.

    • I respectfully disagree with you on all counts. The research and statistics do not support what you say.

      As for lawyers, the truth is we’ll make MORE money if this law passes. It pretty much guarantees that people will fight even more. What’s more, the fights tend to be even uglier than those you see in our courts now. At least, that’s what has happened in other countries where these kinds of laws were passed.


  • Thank you for this excellent article, Karen. It is the most clear overview of this challenging dilemma I have read. As founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network my entire focus is doing what is in “the best interest of the kids!” These new laws are not supporting the kids which is frightening for everyone who understands the dynamics of divorce in a family. I would like to share your article with others to help spread the word.

  • This battle is a civil rights issue for Fathers. Very similar to gay marriage in that it levels a tilted playing field. Custodial mother’s alienating and holding up visitation to demand under-the-table cash isn’t good for kids either. Time to clean up an abuse-filled system and strip some custodial parent power. The Father’s Rights Movement is good for America.

    • I understand your position. What I don’t agree with are the laws as they are presently written and pending in legislatures all over the country. That having been said, should fathers and mothers be treated equally in divorce? Yes. But, I don’t believe these laws are the right way to go about making that change. At the same time, I agree with you that change is necessary.

      Is the Father’s Rights Movement good for America? I don’t know. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s not. Everyone has their own opinion and, in my opinion, that’s all okay. Why? Because what matters most in this discussion is not you or me or mothers or fathers. What matters most is the kids.

      What I believe (hope) the Father’s Rights Movement has the ability to do is to open a conversation about children and parenting that truly puts the children first. Will everyone agree on how to do that? Of course not! Right now in this country it’s hard to get people to agree that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. That’s why having a reasonable dialogue about what matters to us all (our kids) matters! Taking polarized positions of “I’m right and you’re wrong” doesn’t help solve the problems we face. It also doesn’t help our kids.

      In my opinion, we shouldn’t be fighting for Fathers or for Mothers. We shouldn’t be fighting AGAINST each other at all! We should be working together FOR CHILDREN! As adults, we should be doing everything we can to make sure that KIDS have the best chance of growing up happy, healthy and whole.


  • seams to me this article is written thru the eyes and “wallet” of a lawyer..
    the current laws we have are already biased and favor women in all aspects. but times are a changing.
    men are no longer getting married and having kids. many of todays men grew up without a father and saw the
    corruption of the courts and the selfishness of mothers that ripped their lives apart..mgtow is the growing fad and women have shown us their dark side..cheers..

  • The opposition to these laws are family law attorneys and womens groups. Those have the most to lose from equality.

    Family law attorneys stand to lose CONSIDERABLE AMOUNTS OF BILLABLE HOURS. Thats what this article is really about. What this article fails to mention is that these new laws are being sponsored by State Legislators and Family Law Attorneys who have already done the research and have solid stats. We’re not talking about lobbyists that the Bars Associations have. Family law attorneys have already gone infront of State Judicial Committees, and have lost. They’re angry.

    It’s funny how opponents claim this is about fathers wanting to protect their money, all the while those same opponents (family law attorneys) are trying to protect their own money. Nice try. Mothers are behind parental equality just as well.

    All the family law reform groups are comprised of MOTHERS AND FATHERS alike. Stop trying to taint this equality movement with false narratives. The Supreme Court has ruled many times that state courts violate Due Process, but because of the billions attorneys and judges (judge are just attorneys that decide to become a judge) make off pitting one parent over another, family court attorneys and judges continue to violate parental rights. State statutes cannot be construed nor applied seperate from Constitutionally protected parental rights. There are an enormous amount of appellate court cases that have also ruled against family courts. In fact, as recent as April 2018, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled “the best interest” doctrine was unconstitutional due to its vagueness. Family law attorneys are no doubt scrambling to save their practice.

    To the family law attorneys and family courts: you’ve lost. Children will again have equal access to both fit parents.

    • Interesting perspective. Obviously, I disagree.

      I doubt I will ever change your mind about anything, so I’m not going to try. One thing you might want to consider, though, is that the opposition to these bills are groups of fathers and mothers too. So, I guess we have fathers and mothers both disagreeing on what the law should be.

      I know that I will never convince you that lawyers will continue to make plenty of money whether these laws are passed or not. So, I won’t even try.

      Thank you for sharing your opinions.


  • I disagree with your findings whole heartedly. I have lived this. These laws are definitely needed. The current codes create a winner and a loser putting mother against father for time with children and for money. 50:50 solves all that. If it’s 50/50 there is nothing to fight over. The courts can appoint a parenting coordinator if there are issues. Children shouldn’t have to lose a parent , they need and want both equally in their lives.

    • I’m sorry that you have lived through such a rough time. I agree that children shouldn’t have to lose a parent. But I don’t agree that these laws are the answer.

      Using a parenting coordinator can help in some circumstances. That’s an interesting idea. But not everyone can afford having a parenting coordinator mediate every schedule change or parenting issue that arises. That gets expensive fast.

      I think using 50/50 parenting as a starting place isn’t a bad idea IF there is a lot of flexibility in the law to make exceptions for the circumstances where it won’t work or doesn’t make sense. I know you probably don’t agree with that. But it sounds like we would both like to do what’s best for kids. That’s a starting point.

      • Again, in every case it will say 50/50 is ONLY the starting point. All this means is you must prove away from 50/50 (equality), instead of proving towards (equality) 50/50. In both cases it will be what is best for kids, but it also says what is best for kids is to have both parents equally in their life if at all possible.

  • Your wrong about one thing well many things but I’ll focus on one. CS will not necessarily be like you say it will. Even in Texas for example parents that have a true 50/50 plan one is still paying for CS regardless. The biggest problem with the current system is the bias of judges. I will continue to use Texas as an example because this is the laws I’m more familiar with. 90% of the custodial parents(according to the Attorney General Of Texas Office) Are mothers. Standard ordered possession is all too common here too. I will say this when the parents say it’s over then so is the stability of the child. You keep mentioning the courts not able to use the best interest of the child anymore. When have judges actually cared about that in the first place? The family court scene is nothing but a money scheme period. Judges want to award as much child support as possible so they can get funding from Title IV D. Lawyers want families to fight so they can drain their clients of their money. If it was truly about the best interest of the children then why do lawyers charge over $400 and will charge you for a 2 min phone call? All I see in family court is greed…. a father in court already has bias against them for being a man. It’s funny you bash the Fathers Rights Movement when they want both parents to have equal access to their children. It isn’t about getting rid of the mother unlike some of the feminist groups out there want.

    • Dear “Anon,”

      I’m sorry that you have read this article as bashing the Father’s rights organizations. The only thing the article says about those organizations is that they have sponsored these laws in states across the country and that they are concerned with fathers’ rights in divorce and parentage cases. If I’m wrong about that, and the Father’s Rights Groups haven’t sponsored these laws, and don’t support them, please let me know.

      The article also states that the Mother’s rights organizations oppose these bills and that, in my opinion, both organizations are missing the point. (So now I guess everyone can hate me!)

      In truth, as I stated in this article, these laws shouldn’t be about father’s rights OR mother’s rights. They should be about doing what’s best for the kids. That’s my opinion.

      Unfortunately, what’s best for kids doesn’t come in a “one size fits all” package. What works for some families won’t work for others. That’s why I believe that flexibility is the key.

      As far as Texas courts being biased against fathers, I’ve never been in a Texas court so I can’t speak to that.

      I know we don’t agree. But perhaps if everyone worked together we would be able to find a better solution. I do agree with you that we could use one.


      • Karen,
        I real as many blogs and posts about custody arrangements. It’s unfortunate but what I see most in almost every post written by a father- including father’s rights movement blogs/articles/posts- is complaints about money. As if custody and support aren’t two completely seperate issues. Count them up yourself…count how many posts here are from father’s saying how badly they want more custody/ fairer laws who also gripe about support. Then count how many exclusively stick to custody. The ratio is appalling.
        Your blog seems primarily about whether or not 50/50 custody is best for the children. It’s sad that there are so many men who can’t help thinking of they had more custody they could pay less support. Anyone, mom or dad, who is venting or complaining about the custody time they don’t have is really showing they true concern when they slip in the support issues as well.

        • I do my best here to let people state their opinions as much as possible. This is an important issue, and, in my opinion, one that’s worthy of discussion.

          I know that more men have commented on this particular post than women. But if more women want to comment, they can too!

    • Correct, I have 50% placement, and I pay child support. I also fully support my kids during my time with them. There is nothing about 50% placement that helped me out financially, or hurt my ex-wife because she didn’t get as much child support. This negative is debunk, and now a lie.

  • You explained in your article why you want men to be kept in their current situation without even realizing it. “Men make more money” and “men have more money to fight”. When men are treated unfairly by and dont have equal rights in the courts, they can/will continue to fight for equality. Thus, you lawyers can continue to rack up the bills off of them. THAT is why you don’t like these laws. It has nothing to do with the children and everything to do with YOU taking advantage of the situation to line your (and the bar’s) pockets. You’re afraid that this will reduce conflict. That a woman won’t make as many false accusations and keep the man defending himself. If it was about the kids, it wouldn’t be $300/hr or more. If it was about the kids, you would defend that truly abused woman for what she can afford. But it’s not and you know it. You want the conflict because that’s how you make more money. Additionally, none of the language in these laws prevent a judge from requiring a dad to pay for the mom’s attorney. If a mom is required to fight in court against the dad, she is well within her rights to ask for attorney fees to be paid by the dad ONCE HER ACCUSATIONS ARE PROVEN.

    • You sound very angry. You must be very hurt.

      I doubt that anything I say about anything will change your mind.

      I could tell you that the reason so many lawyers oppose these laws is because we understand what they mean and we know that they will hurt kids. I could tell you that these laws will cause more conflict, not less. But I doubt you will believe me.

      All I can do, then, is say we disagree.


    • That is absolutely correct. The current system would make claims to be “in the best interest” of the child but never had those true intentions. It was all about making money circulate throughout the family court system. It’s truly amazing people make large amounts of money off taking people’s children away and making their lives completely unbearable to the point where they find that only in death do they have peace. Equality in parenting is simply inevitable. However, I don’t think that wouldn’t be fair. I want justice for the corruption in family courts, not just equality.

  • This article is very bias and fraught with horrible distortions and arguments. Perhaps one of the most glaring is your disdain for the U. S. Constitution and the protections it affords. You would like to presume guilt before innocence and make the burden of proof the responsibility of the accused. The Supreme Court has already ruled on this issue in respect to parents. Parents are presumed to act in the best interest of their children. The presumption is there just like we are presumed to be innocent. That is one of many fallacies I saw reading your article. I am not surprised. In all states where these bills are presented, the state bar associations and lawyers lobby hard to prevent them from passing. You should be more honest with your article and add that as a disclaimer. Children need BOTH Mom AND Dad. As much as you’d like everyone to believe this is parents putting their rights above the interest of the children, such is not the case. The two are one in the same. When children get what’s best, it just happens to protect parents at the same time. You also paint this as a gender issue. It is not. The issue is whether government can strip parents of their rights and give them back without any due process. These bills aren’t about moms or dads winning. They’re about keeping the government away from damaging children’s relationships with Mom and Dad. By the way, I especially enjoyed the Illinois lawyer Strauss who testified against the bill there. He said the state stood to lose $100s of millions. When unequal parenting orders are given, the state receives federal incentives. Your article failed to mention this very crucial issue. These bills will soon pass in all 50 states. It’s just good common sense and children thrive when they can have equal time with the Mom and Dad they love so much. These bills are really about providing children with the best childhood they could have.

    • Since you already think that the article is “fraught with horrible distortions and arguments” nothing I say in the comments will likely make you feel any differently.


  • Karen
    I have to agree with most, and as typical no moral having, even less integrity, your replies are exactly what a sociopath lawyer would say. I have been in law enforcement for 25 years and because of individuals like yourself, and corrupt family courts, is why this and other laws are being introduced. My faith in the laws of this great country are in complete shambles. Even after a 12k dollar custody evaluation where the Doctor stated, “No evidence of previous or existing DV!” I now have been told to go through a, “Reunification” with my children further supporting all the jobs that this creates. The time is coming soon when either constitutional law, religious laws, and civil laws are followed, or this country will continue to deteriorate and then what will you do? You posted your opinion, thoughts, in this article, why? Does it bother you? If you state there are plenty of other ways to make your money as a lawyer then why post your opinion/argument? I have the means, intelligence to raise my children and don’t need the courts to interfere and hide behind, “What is best for the children” that we all know is a lie. Admit it, you won’t. You, nor anyone else was given a book on how to raise children so why do the courts interfere? Money is the root of all evil, but the destruction of this country and your freedom will soon come to an end if laws are not followed. The majority of women that raise children to adulthood, whether boy or girl has caused these problems. Don’t believe me, keep an eye out. Men prepare children for the real world, women coddle their pain and manipulate. One of the biggest problems, is all men and women are convicted under the minority causing the problems, instead of being judged as individuals, that too shall have to come to an end. The days of no one taking responsibility’s and violating individuals rights are boiling as I write this reply. I will continue to fight the false allegations against me but not in the family courts, that is a battle, thanks to you and your peers that myself and my children are losing. The one whom is accountable and all the legal injustices who helped this situation will be found guilty, punished, and I will do my best to help enact laws to prevent my children from going through all this violations of their rights to have both parents in their lives.

  • Hi Karen- thank you so much for this article. I am crying as I type. My son is now 7 years old. About a week after giving birth, my husband kidnapped our son. I found a great lawyer, she filed an emergency order that night to get my son back. Long story short, I see the emotional pain my son suffers. He has been bouncing back and forth since he was infant. Currently we have a 50/50 custody arrangement (which I did not agree to). It is a 2 day rotating schedule, which is horrible. When his dad picks him up, our son kicks and screams, and sometimes even throws up, I recently found out that our son is not spending the night at dad’s apartment during the weekdays. My ex works the night shift, so he isn’t not spending all of his designated time with our son. Our son isn’t sleeping at my ex’s sisters house or his mothers house and they take him to school.
    I have been working from home for over 15 years. As a lawyer, do you think this is okay? I think our son should be at home with me (his mom), not at an aunt’s or grandma’s house.
    The visitation schedule clearly states “mother” and “father” not aunts, uncles, etc.
    I would deeply appreciate an suggestions or feedback on this situation please.

    • You’re welcome! It sounds like you (and your son) have been through a lot.

      You asked whether it’s okay for your son to be with a relative instead of a parent. I could give you my personal opinion, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking. I think what you really want to know is whether, because of that, you can get your parenting schedule changed. Unfortunately, that’s a legal question that I can’t answer online. You’ll have to ask a lawyer in your area that one.

      Of course, the bigger question is whether the fight is worth it, what it will cost you (emotionally and financially), and what effect it will have on your son. Again, those are questions you’re going to have to ask a lawyer in your area.

      Finally, no matter what happens, you might want to look into getting help for your son. Get him into counseling. Get him talking about his feelings to someone other than you. If he’s having such emotional outbursts and throwing up, he clearly needs help. A good counselor might be able to help him a lot.


  • So children are so horrible or terrible that they don’t deserve to be able to have equal time with both parents? One parent should not be driven to poverty to support the other. Oftentimes a parent will become homeless jobless and alone into the streets because of the current corruption that is family court. Lawyer’s use a tactic known as the Silver Bullet in a courtroom which often results and people losing their jobs financial support and family support due to lies created by the other party. Lawyers and the states are the ones that profit off of the divorce or separation a parents from a child, and the courts aim to try to break the bond between parents. States profit under Social Security Act title 4D section 458. As it stands the standard for evidence allows individuals to lie and falsified documentation and the court

  • There is a very clear bias having to do with the lawyers financial interest here in this proposed scenario. Try as you will, masking your profits on conflict as “what’s best for the children” simply does not fly. This is yet another lawyers biased negative opinion on proposed changes that take away the 300$ an hour to file paperwork and divorce industry feeding trough for lawyers.

    “What’s best for the children” when used by lawyers, and any other historic divorce inc. organization translates into child support system and Title IV D funding as well as more billable hours for attorneys. That’s why you and others firmly disagree with it.

    Thank you for the good read while on public trial here over the outdated and dangerous opinion that fathers are not necessary.

    That’s another bonus for lawyers as fatherless children or weekend dad children often end up
    In jail, on drugs and making poor life choices due to being severed from their male role model and father. You generate future clients for your practice that way and build little broken people who will require lawyers to get them out of legal jams later in life.

    If you are as well read as you indicate we both know you’ve seen the data showing what minimal to no Father Time does to children. They end up at risk for being criminals and or wards of the state later.

    Conveniently creating future clients. What a coincidence, it’s as if majority of the lawyers know this and it scares them.

  • Karen,
    I could not disagree with you more. I have been fighting for custody of my 4 year old for the last 2 years when my ex and Iwent through a divorce. I came to the table with audio recordings of pur conversations of her losing it and saying she was going to put the kids in foster care because she cant handle them while they were standing right there clinging to me and crying how they dont want tobgo with mom. My daughter told the FOC investigator that mom hits her with a spatula when she gets mad (she said stick, I told them spatula and she pointed it out when they went to my exs home) and many other instances of disregard for the kids. In the end though proof of abuse on her end didnt matter but an OWI from 10 years ago did matter for me (when I do not even drink anymore, I have Chrons and it was easy to give up doing). In the end I was stuck “standard” parenting time.

    Since then each time I have went back with proof she has called CPS or a false DV charge. All of the CPS charges were shown to be unfounded and I had audio AND video of the DV showing that she lied but they told me “we can not charge her with a false police report because shr would be scared to report if somethong actually happened.” Each time these allegations completely derailed my attempt for more time. Oh and she recieved legal council to do this! I have lost all faith in the legal system. To me these bills are a step in the right direction because it will prevent the dirty tactics that mothers use with legal advice from lawyers against men. I have even more wonderful instances if you want to hear. This is what the fathers rights movement is fighting against and this is what people like you are fighting to keep intact. How is that a positive environment for children to grow up in? Why would the courts stick a child in a situation like that if it was not bias? Please tell, I am all ears.


    • I am so sorry to hear about what has happened to you. I wish there was something I could do to ease your pain or make things better, but there just isn’t.

      The truth is that people lie all the time. Women do it. Men do it. Even kids do it. In my time, I’ve seen it all. None of it is right. But it happens … a lot.

      What I can tell you is that, no matter what the law is, people will still lie. (I hate to be cynical, but, from what I can tell, that’s just what happens.) So thinking that these bills will make everything wonderful is naive. That being said, I think that making all of our laws the best they can be is a great aspiration to have.

      I wish I could tell you that these bills would prevent people from using dirty tactics in court. They won’t. People are people. There will always be those who use dirty tactics. What’s more, some of them will continue to win. I honestly think these bills will make the fighting over kids even greater and more extreme. That’s my problem with them. I could be wrong.

      In the meantime, what to do?

      I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers. I don’t. But if both sides on this issue could come together and talk, maybe, together, they could find a better answer.

      I have to tell you that, if laws were passed using 50/50 as a starting point, but allowing flexibility in appropriate circumstances and taking into account the kids’ best interests, we would be having a different discussion here. There is absolutely nothing wrong, and a whole lot that’s right, with using 50/50 as a starting point for parenting time. The problem with the proposed laws as they are currently worded is that they DON’T provide any flexibility. I know you’re being told that they do. They don’t.

      Again, I’m truly sorry for what has happened to you. I can’t explain it, condone it, or excuse it.


  • Is any law going to be perfect? It’s a starting point and will be amended over time. As you have pointed out initially children stayed with the father in the US (1800’s), then the laws and expectations changed and now it’s changing again. Is it bad for the children? Well if you can show me when was the golden age of child custody was then maybe there would be a starting point. The article agrees that the research is inconclusive and the implication is that only time will tell. I disagree with the comments on abusive spouses (about 40% of abuse is committed by women), will it put people at risk.. well there is still the option to transfer children at a secure location that has already existed. To summarize, it’s too early to tell the results, research is inconclusive let’s revisit in 5 years time.

    • I wish I could point you to the golden age of children, but I’m not sure there ever was one yet. But I think we are doing ourselves and our children a disservice if we limit our future by the failures of the past.

      Because I don’t believe these laws will be good for children, I also don’t think that passing them anyway and seeing what happens in 5 years is a good idea.

      We don’t agree here, but I appreciate you sharing your opinion.

      • Karen,
        This bill clearly states that all that is needed is a preponderance of evidence. You understand that we should not be “convicting” anyone of a violent act without that type of evidence. (The whole innocent until proven guilty part of our government). If there is truly violence, then it should not be hard to prove that. It definitely would not be as hard as it is today to prove a father is a good parent!
        Right now we have a situation where women can use biology or the unsubstantiated claim of violence to get the upper hand…you know who else acted similarly? The NAZIs, when they systematically rounded up anyone they thought was Jewish. I feel like anyone opposed to this bill is ready to back track 80 years of social awareness.

  • As a father of two teenagers I pray for bills like this to pass. I have been to court 3 times since the divorce went final in an attempt to gain 50/50 custody of my daughters. My daughters are now 17 and 15 and we just finished with court last month and we are still waiting on a ruling. I was told during the divorce hearing that it would be best if I agreed to the demands of my exwife in an attempt to gain more time with my daughters. I wanted 50/50 then. Now granted I was awarded more time than most but it was not 50/50, it’s more like 40/60. My daughters have ALWAYS wanted a 50/50. Like I said I’ve gone to court 3 times in an attempt to gain this. For my transgressions I saw my child support double, then double again, and in this last attempt my exwife is asking for 500 dollars more per month, once my oldest turns 19 my exwife wants what I am paying for both now, for our youngest. On the previous two court battles, both times I requested that the children be allowed to testify to their desires. Both times my exwife blocked them. This last time the court finally agreed to allow them to testify. My daughters were with their mother on that court date. Her response was to take the girls to school instead of court. Lucky for me my daughters called me and had me come pick them up. In court they still tried to block their testimony. Now we wait and see on the courts ruling.
    A bit about me, I have no criminal record, honorably discharged from the military, been with my company for 13 years, and have only missed 2 child support payments ever due to me being in the hospital for an extended time. Those payments were made up quickly. I have been accused of everything from not washing my daughters clothes to raping my oldest daughter. All false and slanderous. I am sick and tired of trying to prove something DIDNT happen. As a male in Nebraska I have always felt I have been guilty till proven innocent. Incompetent till proven otherwise.
    The bills discussed talk about the safe guards. If there is domestic violence issues those will be easy to prove. Drug abuse, easily proven. These are common sense safeguards. These safeguards come into play and will keep those bad parents away. Those who shout about money show their true colors. Money comes first not the children. But for fathers like me these new laws would be safeguards for us. I’ve spent over 30,000 dollars in my quest to get what my daughters have asked for. I have fought for what should be common sense. If both parents are fit and responsible, 50/50 should be the norm not the exception. These new bills look to remedy that and I’m all for it.

    • I read your comment and I can tell that you’ve been through a lot. I can understand your perspective.

      My problem with the proposed laws is that they don’t have any of the common sense safeguards in them that you talk about. I agree, those safeguards are common sense. They absolutely should be there. But, they’re not.

      I wish I could agree that these safeguards should just be common sense. But, in my experience, common sense isn’t always common practice. (I think you’ve seen that in your own situation as well!)

      Unless those safeguards are actually written into the law, the laws will not work the way you think they will.

  • You are talking out of both sides of your mouth it’s this article. Most of your arguments against equal or 50/50 shared parenting are deceptive and null and void as there are provisions and exceptions and judicial discretion still in play to equalize outlier situations including abuse personal choice in schedules decided jointly by parents. I firmly believe you are either spewing biased misinformation to further a personal agenda that benefits you as a lawyer in the industry personally, at the tremendous expense to children, or you don’t understand how family court and it’s laws currently operate. Because you are in the “ industry” i think it is pretty clear it is the former. This type of dishonesty and lack of ethics and “ genuine” concern for he best interests of children are the biggest problems we face in family court reform. That and title IX-D funding clearly paving the way for a chance nflict of interest and “best interest” standards. You can be part two f the problem or part of the solution. The choice is yours.

  • Rebuttable presumption of 50/50

    Presumption runs clear in your commentary and you seem to assert that mothers a) are not abusive and that b) fathers are. You base your statements off of this moving forward.

    1. The legal presumption of 50 50 is not iron clad as you put forward. It is a starting point and a judge can easily shift away from that within reason.
    As a starting point in an equal society 50 50 is the logical choice to begin from.

    2. The burden of proof has always been on the accuser in criminal law (which funny enough is what people are often charged with and then cleared from but it’s a tool used to remove parenting immediately in family courts without proof).
    This would require a balance. Right now accusations are enough to accomplish alienation.
    An alienator will
    A) make a baseless accusation.
    B) the court will err of the side of caution (good on them if we were all honest people)
    C) eventually the charges are proven false (or true, again if true good on the court) but what if they are false?
    D) we don’t return to the state that existed when the accusation was made for a fair an equal parenting plan through family court. We start from “now” when you often hear the term “status quo” which has been developed under false pretenses and out right lies.

    So yes rather than returning to the Salem witch trials we do need real evidence to make a claim of a crime.

    3. If a parent isn’t endangering the child in the ways listed why would they not be given equal time and the child benefit from both parents? I’m unclear on why this is bad.

    4. Written reasons for judgement are the norm in my jurisdiction. They aren’t some overly intense laborious task. Even if they were they are part of a judges job. Would we say to a police officer reading rights and collecting evidence is just to much work so summary executions are acceptable? Reasons for judgement also allow the parties to understand the why of a situation to better accept and change it.

    The 5 things that will hurt kids
    1. Starting at 50 50 allows a judge to tailor parenting because parents live hours away.
    What is your solution? A child has to stay with 1 parent more because the other lives hours away…. How do you determine which parent?
    This sounds like you are trying to re-enlist the tender age doctrine. See that starting at 50 50 and then working it down from there is what allows a child to share in both parents.
    2. Abuse is clearly not in the child’s best interest and clearly endangers the child. Since you quoted earlier in your article that 50 50 would be altered based on child endangerment it seems you point this out to elicit a reaction from people but it is a dishonesty on your part. You’ve already outlined how an abuser would not have 50 50.
    3. Again you are relying on an untrue falicy that 50 50 is iron clad and that it would be counted to the second. I’ll also add you can claim research for this and that but there are numerous studies that support 50 50 (shared parenting as obviously no one takes 50 50 as literal which is what you’ve tried to do). So as you stated, what research is right? There are a multitude of studies that show even in high conflict cases a child’s outcome is better with both parents involved, hence the move from tender age doctrine to best interest with a rebuttable presumption of 50 50.
    4. So your claim is that you believe that a certain group will be disadvantaged and that’s why we shouldn’t worry about the child’s best interest we should focus on that parents best interest?
    But you’re right if 90% of cases settle amicably then great. For the 10% that remain we need laws. It’s like saying most people don’t speed… Wonderful what do we do with the people that do speed?
    5. Your comment is gender biased. Why not look at it from the angle that the majority of custodial parents (mothers) don’t want to lose child support or have it reduced? The point of course being somewhat ridiculous. As is yours. Child support is an after calculation to the whole. You don’t award parenting time so that a parent can get money. You award parenting time based on the best judgement for what is best for the child (though I would say I don’t believe most judges do a good job) none the less child support is a result of that judgement.

    I think you should examine more research rather than focusing on only studies that support your position. And to be clear that’s what you have “a position” you are not a neutral party making a comment.

    • I wrote this article as clearly as I could. The points that are supported by research are also stated as clearly as possible. I know I’ll never convince you of anything, so I won’t try.

      I guess we just disagree.

      • From someone who raised his kids in a 50% situation (and know many families who have done the same):
        • I can tell the research you say supports this article is very old, and outdated.
        • I can tell you haven’t talked to any of us 50% Pioneer parents or kids (who are now in college or heading to college and becoming wonder adults).
        • I can tell you haven’t researched those kids who are growing up in 50% families, or have already grown-up in 50% families.
        • I can tell you haven’t researched how giving dads equal time with the kids, gives moms the time to go back to school or excel at her job. Thus, it is decreasing the wage gape problem.
        • I can tell you are purposely misleading your readers about the bills, or actually never read them.
        • I can tell you wrote this article because of your own pocket book, and not about kids.
        • I can tell you don’t care about parent alienation.
        • I can tell you don’t think fathers are as important to kids, as mothers are.
        I could go on longer, but this article is simply bad and purposely insulting.

  • Karen, not if, but when these unconstitutional laws that violate the fundamental rights of parents and children are overturned across the country over the next 5-10 years, *you* will be the target of 42 USC §1983 civil rights suit deemed to be “state actor” (review the case law in which private parties have been deemed to be state actors) for depriving parents of their fundamental right to Equal Parenting. Your specious championing of “best interests” is egregiously flawed and destructive of children. Its illegal, criminal (18 USC §242), evil, and outright disgusting. You are supporting laws that are akin to state-sponsored-parental kidnapping of a child from other *fit* parents, and financial slavery. Its deplorable. Frankly, your kind should be charged with crime and hung in a public square. And you’re so damn delusional and so unable to empathize, you will never come to realize how wrong your point of view is. Your time is coming to an end, and once the tide turns, civil rights attorneys are going to sue you deplorable “family” law attorneys into the stone age for the lives you have wrecked and the billion$ which you leeches have thieved from parents and children in unnecessary legal fees.

  • How dare any of you assume that it is for a parent to not have pay child support. None of you care about kids. You only care about money. I was a kid who was forced away from her loving dad because my mom and step dad willed it. My mom bore false witness against my dad. She said he was doing drugs, she said he was abusive and mentally unstable. None of which were true. I was my father’s musical muse and for 16 years my mother lied to me, telling me he hated me and never wanted me. One day I found out the truth and a simple MySpace message gave me my dad back at 19 years old. The last time I saw my daddy I was four. She hurt both of us. That’s all feminism and money do these days. Ladies we wanted equality well get out and get a job just like him.

  • I think a child has the right to have both biological parents in their life in a reasonable manner. Currently it appears to me that the past legal practice which many are still holding tightly onto is to make one parent (usually a biological father) prove they are a “parent” mostly through financial child support which is weighed heavier than the biological fathers desire and ability to be an active part of the child’s life. Yet if both parents value their child and you quantify the value it appears the biological father paying child support and having the legally recognised opportunity to spend time with their child values their child at a much higher rate than the biological mother. All we have to do is take a representative sample of all the cases to see the great disparity in the costs to both parents versus the child value to both parents, that is, assuming both parents love and care for their child, the legal system has limited a biological fathers access to the child while holding the biological father to a much higher financial obligation to the child in relation to the child benefit than it does the biological mother. I say look at the family situation, recognise a reasonable time for the child to be spending with both parents given the variable ( child’s schedule, parents geographic s, parents reasonable limitations – employment schedules, etc) and hold each parent obligated to provide the necessary care/support for the child in relation to the child value (child’s total time) they receive (?% of 100%). Where I live, it is a woman’s sole right to determine if the child will be born, it makes sense to me that along with that right is an obligation to have an understanding and acceptance of the obligation to provide for the child they have solely chosen to bring into this world regardless of how it plays out. It still appears this responsibility is not as accepted as the right.
    It seems we are still holding on to the notion that a biological father ought to be legally financially obligated to provide for the necessities of the child and to legally have to prove they are capable of being a parent then proving they are capable of being a parent for more than 10% of the child life yet paying for greater than 10% of the costs of the child for which the other parent is benefiting. Quite the gig! Good parents want and value their child, yet we talk about child support (I am referring more to % of income and not support for glasses, education, sports, etc) as a right to the child and the parent whom the child is with the majority of the time creating a very high cost for a parent who is limited to less than a reasonable (30% or greater) amount of time with their child. % of income child support is nothing more than subsidizing the benefits of the child the other parent is receiving. If you value your child take responsibility for your child. If we didn’t have this financial redistribution greater than the distribution of child value then we likely would not be having a debate about shared parenting versus equal parenting in my opinion. That is if both parents value their child and were paying their fair share it wouldn’t be an issue. If one parent values the child and the other doesn’t, does it really benefit the child (that is a net benefit which includes physical, psychological, emotional costs and benefits as well as financial) to hold the parent who does not value the child to a legal financial obligation?

  • My kids are almost grown now (well one actually is grown now), and I had 50% placement of my kids for most of their life. 50% placement works best for all. I was able to be a true equal parent to my kids, my ex-wife had time to go back to school and better her education, and my kids enjoyed having both parents equally in their life. I never saw a negative to equality at all. The schools, coaches, and Churches all were very happy and supportive of 50% placement. They understand parents are the two most importing factors to kids. Nothing else even comes close.

    Those of us that are Pioneer 50% parents are proving ALL your negatives incorrect. Our kids are heading to college now, truly understand who both parents are, and knowing that both parents love them equally. There is nothing more important than that.

    Since I have lived the 50% life, I can tell your negatives come from a very ignorant point of view. Sorry, we 50% Pioneer parents have basically debunked all of your negative points. The truth is out there now, so you don’t have to guess, nor can you lie about it. I would suggest you interview a few of the Pioneer 50% kids, and parents so you know what you are talking about. This was bad.

  • There are so many things wrong with this article I don’t know where to start. Men are discriminated against in family court, that needs to change. The presumption of 50/50 parenting time needs to be the starting point in all divorces where no evidence of abuse or neglect is present. You must assume that each parent is fit until proven otherwise. Without that you are presuming the mother is the best parent to care for children, that is clear discrimination. Every couple, at least in my state, goes to mediation if there are disagreements. This is where true time gets split, by the parents, not by the judge. The parents need to discuss the reality of how their time with work, logistics, etc, and determine together how they will work it out. You can not give one parent the upper hand – we know that a temporary order is more likely to become the permanent order. Child support is for the children, not for the parent, you need to take this argument out of the equation. Spousal support takes care of the spouse. Just because mom wants to claim if dad has the children more then she can’t make ends meat and needs more time because she needs more money is ridiculous. There are so many good solutions to your argument that show equal parenting time is good for children. My husband fought for years for equal time with his kids. We have it now but it was a long and tedious process. The mother dragged it out so she continued to collect support, she created problems, she picked our lives apart, she was awful. She made it very contentious. Now that we have had 50/50 parenting the kids see so much less conflict, mom and dad get along better, still not great – but better, they work together on behalf of the kids, and we pay our equal shares. Imagine how much more love and happiness there would be in both households if dad was presumed equal from the start. Most dads are good people who want nothing more than to parent their children. They shouldn’t be punished for that. Using battered women situation to keep these laws from getting past is like saying all women are the victim and all men are evil. It’s not right. And by the way in my situation mom made twice as much money as dad and was able to drag this on and on in court, and dad struggled financially and lost a lot in the process. He was a primary care giver, picking up from school everyday, doing bedtimes, cooking meals, etc. That was presumed to be mom’s job because of old thinking like what is in this article. If equal time doesn’t work for a family they will work it out – but equal time needs to be the starting point so both parent have a fair chance at actually being parents to their children.

  • For someone who admonishes the use of misinformation, you sure do use a lot of it in this article.

    Firstly, you throw words such as “forced” and “required” to incorrectly convey to your readers that these laws will “force” 50/50 on all parents. It’s clear you either don’t understand how presumptions work, or you are deliberately using words to “scare” readers into determining that these laws are dangerous for women and children. It’s lucky you don’t fool those of us with experience in the judicial system. All of your contentions are either conflated or downright incorrect. Shame on you for peddling such abhorrently unethical propaganda about. You should know better.

    Don’t get me wrong, 50/50 parenting time is a delicate construct which can only work with two fit parents who get along with each other (it just so happens that the vast majority of separated parents meet that criteria). Suggesting that the current law is adequate speaks to either your ignorance or your deliberate use of misinformation. Statistics available in every state indicate that current law isn’t working for children, which is why these laws are being introduced and supported throughout the country.

    • Just a quick note to say my ex-wife and I really don’t get along that well. We need to stay out of each other life for the most part, and don’t communicate that often. Yet 50/50 child placement still works perfectly fine. This idea that you must have great communication for shared parenting is incorrect. Again, start talking to people who actually have 50/50 placement. That will help. -Joel

  • I’ve never had to do this before. I truly hope I never have to do it again. But, if I have to, I will.
    This blog is for discussion. It is NOT for threats, intimidation, ridicule and derision. I have allowed many of you to slam me in these comments. I figured that, since I started this discussion, it was only fair that I allow you to air your opinions whether I agree with them or not. In the end, your opinions speak more about you than they ever will about me.
    But I will NOT allow ANYONE to threaten, intimidate, or ridicule any other person who has had the courage to write a comment on this blog.
    I have and will continue to delete any and all comments that threaten or ridicule any other person who has commented here. I will delete any comments that are mean-spirited or rude.
    If you can’t live with my rules, then don’t comment on my blog.

  • Do not be intimidated by anyone. Believe in yourself and how important your role of the father is to your children. Don’t let anyone take that away from them. Family court is not a father-friendly place. You will be treated poorly. You must not let it get to you. You must show the judge, lawyers and anyone else who cares to know that you are an above-and-beyond father and that you will endure any hardship from now until the end of time for the sake of your children. And I hope this law passed, and I praying for that.

  • FYI
    I am a divorce lawyer licensed in Oregon and Arizona. In Oregon, if both parents do not agree to joint custody, it will not be awarded. Oregon favors sole custody and the stability that comes from having one parent be the primary parent.

    Arizona strongly favors joint custody with respect to both legal decision making and shared parenting times. While each state allows for the “best interest of the child” to trump the state’s particular preference, all families and outcomes seem influenced by the State’s preference.

    A USA today article illustrates that the trend across the country is moving to equal parenting time arrangements and joint custody. The article cites three main reasons for the change:

    First, gender roles have converged, and more men are caretakers.

    Second, polls show that large majorities of Americans support the concept of shared custody.

    Third, the movement has, in part, been fueled by the fact that over the last 30 years, courts have given custodial parents more powers, Holstein said, leaving non-custodial parents frustrated and energizing a backlash.

    While these are interesting reasons, none are evidence based claims that this arrangement is actually better for children. Sometimes, especially in cases of young infants, I have really struggled with whether this truly is the best arrangement. Also, in an increasingly mobile society, joint custody often means parents are literally unable to move closer to extended family following a divorce, leaving once spouse isolated.

    However, a quick search seems to indicate that the evidence does suggest that equal parenting time may be the best arrangement for families absent abuse or addition. A Psychology Today Article sites two recent and comphrehensive studies that indicate equal parenting time reduces conflict between the parents, the children perceive the reduction in conflict, and that parents experience reduced stress when sharing parenting responsibilities. Additionally, children’s wellbeing seems closely ties to the stregnth of attachment to caregivers, which is directly correlated to the amount and quality of time with each.

    While equal parenting time is not possible in all cases, and is certainly not ideal in all cases, it does seem that when possible, with two good and committed parents, everyone involved benefits from equal parenting time arrangements. What do you think? In your experience has equal time worked well?

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective.

      What do I think?

      Like any good lawyer, I’ll tell you that the answer is, “it depends.” What kind of parenting time divorced parents should have depends on their family, their kids, and all their circumstances. I think equal parenting can be excellent for some kids and disastrous for others. That’s why flexibility is so important.

      There simply is no “one size fits all” solution.

      If we truly want to do what is best for children, we need the flexibility to figure out what that is for each child, and each family.

      I also think it’s important to be clear on what we’re talking about. “Shared” parenting is not the same as “equal” parenting. Shared parenting means that two parents share time with their children in some proportion. Most divorced parents already do that. Equal parenting means precisely 50/50 parenting time. That’s very different.

      I agree with you that most Americans would probably say that parents should share parenting after divorce. But I doubt that they would say that parents should always share time with their children in precisely equal proportions, even if their child is only one week old, or had special needs and didn’t deal well with going from house to house after divorce.

      Do I think that 50/50 parenting time can work well for a lot of families, and should be the starting point for discussion? Yes. I do. But do I believe that 50/50 should be an absolute requirement, regardless of the circumstances of the family? No. I think that’s draconian. I think it’s too rigid of a standard, just as saying that one parent should always only get to see their kids every other weekend and for dinner on Wednesdays regardless of whether the kids want and need to see that parent more or not, is draconian.

      Families need flexibility. If the law is to be relevant and useful in our society, it needs flexibility too.

      • There much concern over semantics and not enough concern over the children. There is no discussion needed. The children benefit from the fathers being involved in their lives. This is proven by study after study performed, all over the world, by governments and universities. It is true that there many dissenting studies that are funded by feminists organizations such as the National Organization for Women. Is that really hard to understand?

        I have not seen any laws that rigidly demand 50/50 custody if the parents want something different. They have no need to go to court in the first place. They can sit down and make a plan together. Most judges will honor an agreement between parents. No one is “draconian” here.

        The laws of a society are not to be relevant or useful. They only punish those who fail to comply with what is right. This is the biggest travesty: the last people who should be determining how families function are judges and attorneys. Judges are elected officials who are only concerned about the female vote because that allows them to keep their cushy government jobs. Attorneys are making an absolute fortune off of the current gender-biased laws.

        Children need equal time with both parents. That is the best for them. They had both parents during the marriage and they should have both parents in the divorce. Women do not want 50/50 shared time with the fathers for one and only one reason: Time with each parent has been tied to money. more time with mommy means more money. It is terribly difficult to argue for child support when the father has the children his half of the time already.

        The current laws are totally flexible and it just leads to judges placing the children with the mothers so that they can secure their jobs. The laws must be corrected to ensure that both parents are on equal footing and can argue for their views without gender-bias from the court. If the parents can’t agree, then 50/50 is the best for the children. Oh, and you can contact the National Parents Organization for a boat load of actual data that shows that equal parenting is far better than mom getting the kids 80% of the time.

  • Thank you for writing such an interesting blog piece. I confess I have not yet read all the comments, so what I have to say may already have been said. I came across the blog while searching for articles arguing against the equal parenting legislation to be introduced in Kentucky, so this wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
    The trouble with equal parenting legislation, it seems to me, is that it is a reaction. It is a reaction to what has gone before, which so often and in so many jurisdictions (I’m in England) has resulted in minimal access for children to their fathers.
    Unfortunately bad legislation – if that is what this is – is liable to be rolled back by the next administration, returning families to the unsatisfactory situation that existed before, and blocking the way for more moderate, carefully constructed legislation which might actually work in families’ interests.
    In this jurisdiction, we have recently (2014) had a modest presumption of parental “involvement”, limited by numerous caveats, and an amendment – passed by 4 votes – that it could not mean any particular division of a child’s time. I await an evaluation of the measure with interest, but it does seem that litigants are raising the presumption in court.

  • FYI
    Legislatures across the US alternate between “regular” and “short” sessions with the latter curtailed by upcoming elections. Further impacting the number of bills introduced is that four US states, North Dakota, Texas, Montana and Nevada, host bi-annual sessions, meeting only once every other year.

    With the 2018 legislative session being shortened and several states with a strong interest in shared parenting not meeting at all, one might expect the number of bills being considered in 2018 to be lower, perhaps even significantly.

    Leading Women for Shared Parenting has now completed its review of statehouses across the US and has identified twenty states considering Shared Parenting Bills in the 2018 legislative session.

    Further, five states (Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Minnesota and Illinois) have introduced new bills, meaning in the past 2 legislative sessions, 30 US States have considered a legislative change to Shared Parenting.

    With 110 world experts having endorsed shared parenting, and having recently updated their findings, it remains the best outcome for children. Dr. Linda Nielson has also updated her review of the 60 studies available in English speaking journals and summarized:

    “In sum, independent of family income or parental conflict, Joint Physical Custody is generally linked to better outcomes for children.”


    · Shared Parenting is popular, achieving 70+% favorability in repeated polling & voting results.

    · Shared Parenting improves children’s relationships with both their mothers and their fathers.

    · Shared Parenting reduces stress on children.

    · Shared Parenting was the recommendation of the largest study of children post separation or divorce, which reviewed 150,000 kids

    As Fatherlessness is a growing epidemic and Family Courts are a very significant contributor, more elected officials are opposing their state Bar Association and joining the push to have their state enact what both current research and experts say is best for children.

    States considering Bills in 2018 include:

    1. Kansas

    2. Missouri

    3. New York

    4. Vermont

    5. Michigan

    6. New Jersey

    7. New Hampshire

    8. West Virginia

    9. South Carolina

    10. Connecticut

    11. Alabama

    12. Massachusetts

    13. Minnesota

    14. Illinois

    15. Maryland

    16. Iowa

    17. South Dakota

    18. Wisconsin

    19. Washington, and

    20. North Carolina

  • Karen, thank you for sharing your insight on the topic. I got online praying and hoping to find an outlet, someway somehow, on how I can get the courts to consider the affects of domestic violence in this “presumption”. I left an extremely emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually abusive marriage. My ex was able to hold our son as well as my faith over my head for years. Now that I have finally gotten the strength to go and stay away from him he uses our child as a way to hurt me. How do we move to get the courts to consider the emotional abuse that children suffer by having a parent that soles purpose is to hurt the other parent… My ex is constantly telling my child that I don’t love him and that I didn’t love him or his father enough to give him one home and a normal life. My child is not “allowed” to talk about me or anything that pertains to me or my family while he’s there and is physically and verbally reprimanded if he does so. According to the courts discretion, “that doesn’t rise to the level of serious child endangerment”. Is forcing a young child to emotionally compartmentalize his life not considered abuse?!
    And as much as I agree that any movement in family court should be based on what is best for the CHILD… how do we get the courts to consider the emotional damage it does to a mother to have to turn her child over to her abuser?! Especially when the child is being used as a way to further damage her?!

    • I’m so sorry to hear what your ex is doing. I don’t envy you.

      While the behavior you are describing may be hurting your child emotionally, as long as your ex isn’t physically abusing your child, there may not be much you can do. I would definitely suggest that you talk to an attorney in your area to find out what kinds of parental behavior they will deem to be “okay,” and what behavior they will say endangers a child. While the court’s standards may be wildly different from your standards, they are the standards you and your ex will be bound by.

      The best thing you can do is to do everything within your power to diffuse the effects of your ex’s behavior. Teach your child coping mechanisms he can use to deal with his father’s behavior. Assure your child that you love him, and show him love as much as you can. Lead by example and never bad mouth your ex no matter how much he badmouths you.

      Are any of these ideas perfect? No. Will they completely protect your son from emotional damage? No. But hopefully, they will help, at least a little.

      Finally, courts right now are charged with doing what is in children’s best interests. (That is, unless the laws change.) The emotional damage one parent inflicts on the other through the child is just not part of the equation. (Sorry.)



  • These laws are a bit too much even though I am a huge supporter of father’s rights. Which really should be children’s rights. 50/50 absolutely sould be the STANDERED. Like 80/20 is not … But not all cases are 80/20. Many are 70/30, 60/40 and 50/50. Even though 80/20 is the standard. Deviating from that should absolutely be in the CHILD’S best intrest. Unfortunately, it is usually in the MOM’S best interest. Mothers and father’s should be seen as equals. Parent A and parent B. If you have to put them on a recorder and not SEE them…with a voice over app to make both voices the same. Than make a decision. It is ridiculous that a mom can have an unstable place to stay, no car, no job when dad does and all that happens is dad pays more child support. So he loses his place and all. Let the kids have the stability. And domestic abuse ABSOLUTELY should be proven with “clear and convincing” evidence. What is abuse can be a matter of opinion. And females can be VERY abusive….but nobody talks about that. What should be is…one parent is proposing 80/20…there is distence involved so that sounds what would be best. Parent A lives in a room at their own parents house, with no job. Parent B has their own house and a job and stability. Parent B gets it…parent B is dad. But if they know mom is parent A…she gets it anyway. That’s in no way shape or form… Right. It is discrimination based on gender/sex.

  • It’s nice to know I’m not the only one upset by this law, I am a mother yes I left the father of my children when they were 7 months because he was an abusive alcoholic and now after 9 years he finds a loophole. He has a past history of DUI’s and harassment charges along with epo’s from previous women but yet I am forced to share custody with this man. I watch my kids cry and beg to not do this and all I can say is I’m sorry and beat myself up as a mother because I feel like I failed my kids. If he was a good guy just wanting to spend quality time with his kids there would be no questions in this matter but when it’s all because it’s his last way to hurt me and use our kids for his own pleasure in hurting them and me, it’s bull! I should of just stayed with him and continued to get slapped around and cheated on and sexually abused since leaving doesn’t save my kids now. This law is not about the kids, trust me I get it their are Dads out there who should have custody but I’ve never done anything but love my kids and They don’t want to do this, and that is emotionally hurting kids as well.

    • I am so sorry to hear what you and your kids continue to go through. Unfortunately, the proposed laws (in my opinion) will make situations like yours so much harder.

      I agree that sharing custody works for a lot of parents. But for those who are in situations where shared custody doesn’t work, the law needs to be more flexible. Otherwise, as you said, it’s the kids that get hurt.

      Thanks for sharing your story.

  • “The new laws put the parents’ “rights” above their children’s best interests.”

    FALSE: It puts the children’s rights to both parents at the forefront.

    “The laws don’t make any exceptions for kids whose parents live hours away from each other.”
    Fine, that is easy to add. But in most cases, the parents live in near immediacy. So, it should be, if the parents live in immediate vicinity, than it is presumptive. If not, presumption should go to the parent who resides within the child’s prior residence are when such would lead to continuance within the same educational district.

    “As a matter of fact, the new laws don’t focus on the children at all. They focus solely and completely on what’s best for the parents.”

    FALSE: Please note, you will see this claim but never see it substantiated.

    “What do children of divorce want? While the answer obviously differs from case to case, most kids just want to be kids. They want two parents who love and care about them. They want to be able to love both of their parents and live their lives.”

    Funny, right there is the crux of what we’re fighting for. Ask my kids what they want different. All three will say they want more daddy time. The problem is that our current custody system has a propensity to forcibly and without any cause remove one loving parent’s presence from the children’s lives.

    “The new laws endanger children in cases involving domestic violence, abuse, and neglect.”

    FALSE: In fact, by enacting laws that would largely eliminate 90% of custody cases and court resources. The family court would be equipped to provide significantly better actions in matters of domestic abuse. Rather than rushing thru every case on a few mere soundbites, courts could actually do their job.

    “What’s more, requiring domestic violence victims to overcome this legal presumption by “clear and convincing evidence” is an unbelievably difficult task. At best, overcoming this presumption requires a skilled lawyer and a lot of evidence. At worst, it will never happen.”

    Funny, being the victim of both emotional and physical domestic abuse. And having several documented incidents of reported abuse of my children. The fact is, due to my being a father I am de facto sentenced to a custody agreement that is worthy of an abuser. Meanwhile, the mother of my children is given primary custody as if she was a victim rather than an abuser.

    “But the studies they cite don’t talk about equal parenting time. They talk about shared parenting time.”

    FALLACY: Arguing that 50/50 should be disregarded because the studies only showed 25% shared time, and very little cases of actual 50/50 shared time were documented, is a fallacy. (a) the studies demonstrated increased time with both parents showed greater benefit. While that does not support a claim for 50/50, it surely warrants an elimination of the default 15% paternal custody time. (b) arguing a lack of evidence due to the fact that said equitable choice is so rarely granted that there was not enough statistical evidence is not a valid argument.

    “It’s the people who can’t work things out who rely on the law and the courts to tell them what to do.”
    FALSE: Parents involved in custody cases with high-conflict ex-parters need these laws in order to protect their children and their children’s rights to both parents. It only takes one parent willing to make life hellish and use the children as weapons to hurt an ex partner. The law is to put an end to this all too common practice.

    “In almost all states, the amount of child support a parent pays is affected by the amount of time that parent spends with his/her child. The more time a parent spends with a child, the less child support that parent pays (… or receives).”

    FALSE: A huge amount of child support is determined by biased magistrates who pick and choose what aspects of the law they will apply.

    “While adjusting child support based upon time spent with a child seems fair, most men still earn more than most women.”
    FALSE: Most men work more hours. Often at a lower rate. As was the case when our custody case began. My ex chose to work part time, but she earned more than me an hour. She had an equivalent if not greater earning potential. But I was forced to pay several hundred dollars a month.

    “Anyone who has spent more than ten minutes in divorce court can tell you that some parents will do whatever they can to reduce the amount of child support they pay, or to increase the amount they receive. Then, once their court case is over, the parent never uses the parenting time s/he fought so hard to get.”
    FALSE: Many fathers are fighting tooth and nail for custody time. Many of us, so burdened and broken financially, would still be willing to pay the same child amount. Just let us be in our children’s lives.

    “If these new laws are passed, more people will fight longer and harder over parenting time. They will do so not because they want to see their kids more, but because they want to pay less.”

    FALSE: This simplifies the support equation. Establishes a far more equitable expectation. And allows for simpler calculations to be implemented.

    “The real focus should be on the kids.”
    TRUE: And right now, our current system does not do that. It allows one vindictive parent to establish a “winner take all” scenario, catered to by the courts. With zero benefit to the children. All to the tunes of tens of thousands of dollars being stripped from the family coffers and handed over to lawyers – surely, that doesn’t benefit the children in any way.

    Eliminating the “winner-takes-all” scenario is ABSOLUTELY in the children’s best interest.

    “Unless the law is flexible, it will favor some people and disadvantage others.”
    FALSE: Problem is, the law is too flexible. And throughout history, flexible laws have always enabled the law to benefit some and disadvantage others. Equitable laws, made for just societies.

    We’re not asking for anything other than being able to start with the simple expectation that our children deserve the right to have both their parents in their lives, yes equally. Because a mere token few days a month is not sufficient for most children’s needs.

    “Right now, most laws don’t explicitly favor mothers in custody or parenting battles. But, as a practical matter, in many places there is a judicial bias in favor of keeping kids with their moms. That bias, as well-intentioned as it may be, is not helpful.”
    TRUE: So lets enact legislation that ends the opportunity of bias upon judges and magistrates and ensures there are actually documentable facts to support decision to remove children from their parents.

    “If changes need to be made to the current laws to make sure that judges make their decisions in a less biased way, then THAT’S the discussion we should be having. Arguing over whether parenting time should be exactly equal or not is counterproductive.”
    WRONG WRONG WRONG: What you are saying is we need more laws that can be flexed. This is so wrong. Officially, Pennsylvania is not supposed to allow gender to affect custody and support decisions. Unofficially, it does so to the utmost extreme. Sure, there is a law stating that decisions should not be affected by gender. But it has no teeth.

    Incident after incident after incident after incident of repeated bias, a parent’s only course of action is to essentially, go to court, spend thousands of dollars in an attempt to get a judge to admit that their prior decision was wrong. Judges have huge egos. Most won’t admit a poor decision even in the midst of a hundred documentable facts. What judge wants to publicly reverse a poorly made decision? Your proposal simply leads to escalated court expenditures and harms families.

    Establishing 50/50 parenting by default where base criteria are met (no prior record of abuse, both parties located within a reasonable distance of the children’s pre-divorce home, etc, etc). When met, 50/50 should be the uncontested default. Why force every American family to drain their savings in custody courts – a system that encourages and pushes for winner-take-all scenario.

    As for child support, that is already, universally subject to calculations – supposedly with the intent of establishing equivalency. (More often than not, it establishes poverty for one party and victory for the other.)

    Perhaps….if the author hung around some of the Father’s Rights Movement groups on Facebook and elsewhere and heard what many of us father’s haved faced: injustices, missing out on our kids lives, watching our children be harmed, having our children uses as weapons to manipulate and control us, being pushed to the brink of homelessness. But worse of all…having to hear repeatedly our children cry and beg to be with us. Feeling them pulled forcibly away from us, their arms clinging to our necks, choking us as they try with all their might to not be taken away from a loving parent. If you had to endure what some of us fathers have endured, you would be a left an emotional wreck.

    Claiming this is anything about money, is so so so far from the truth. Would we like to not be pushed to homelessness by injustice after injustice…sure. But we’d much more rather have our children in our lives and be in their lives. We’d much rather see our children, healthy, happy, and safe. Sadly, many of us fathers do not get to see any of that.

  • And please, don’t just delete my comment because it’s a differing view. If you really want insight into this, email me. I’ll show you what I have been enduring. What my children have been enduring. I can assure you, that without seeing it, you would never believe me if I told you. You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t even think my case and situation were possible. But it is…


  • Hi,
    As I read through the comments, mostly because I am curious what people think. One thing is clear there is so much anger behind many of the words because everyone gets hurt in the divorce process. Generally, I think that as long as both parents are not abusive and it makes sense for the child, 50/50 can be a good thing. Where it becomes problematic is that often times, a child is deeply bonded with the Mother as she still in today’s day and age is the primary caretaker, even if she works full time. At the end of the day, 50/50 is a number that people get stuck on and can get in the way of serving the interest of the child, especially when the right to 50/50 overshadows the needs of the children. In one of the comments, I read about a Dad whose daughters wanted more time with him and if all said is true, their needs should be considered. I also believe that we have to figure out a way to separate our own stuff and work collaboratively with the co-parent to figure out what is best for the child. It often struck me that my ex-wanted 50/50 after the divorce but often wasn’t present 50/50 because he worked so much when we were married. In fact, I often took vacations alone with the kids because he was too busy at work. Anger/resentment/fear is a dangerous thing when it hurts the child. I think Dads should be involved and deserve time with their kids. However, enforcing 50/50 can really be detrimental to a child in certain circumstances, whether it is the Mom or Dad.

    • Thank you for sharing your views. I agree completely.

      Unfortunately, everyone does get hurt in divorce. But, that having been said, it’s up to the adults to do everything they can to minimize their kids’ pain if they can. To do that, the law needs to be flexible enough to give them the ability to do what’s best in their situation.

      There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to parenting time, or anything else involving children and divorce.

  • As a wife of a divorced father who deals with only seeing his children 80/20 I think it is awful that people think that this law is a bad thing. Mothers are finally understanding what he has went through since his divorce. I have prayed for this law for so long. I have 2 step daughters who cry every time they have to go home. I have 2 step daughters whose mother makes them feel bad for missing him. If there is domestic violence the court will find it. But to say that this is harder on the children? Whats hard for a child is not getting the build a relationship with both parents equally. What is hard for a child is having to feel like they have to choose a parent. What is hard for a child is crying after surgery because the mother is mad at them for missing their father. Whats hard for a child is crying to the other parent about how their mother makes them scared to tell her she wants to be with them more too but knows she will get in trouble for feeling bad about it. What is bad for a child is closed-minded people like you that dont think this rule has any benefits. You still pay child support. If youre like my husband we are offering to may the same amount of child support just to get more time with his children. Yes I know there are fathers that will try and take advantage of this law but are there not mothers as well that take advantage of the law as it is has been? Fathers have had to go through this torture for so long and have had no help in the court system. Taken from a college interpersonal relations textbook studies have shown that “Children often have an interest in equal timesharing, and those who actually have such arrangements report less sense of loss and less focus on the divorce than those in sole custody.” Shared parenting isnt just a parents right but also a childs right. As a mother myself and a step mother it is beyond me how somebody thinks 90 days a year with a childs father is enough or “in the childs best interest.” I understand there is a lot of domestic violence cases but if there is a history of domestic violence Im sure the judge will be made aware. I have seen first hand a mother warp the minds of a child just as easily as a father. So to tell me that fathers getting 50/50 is bad is absolutely ridiculous. Yes there is a percentage people that may use it to their own benefit but there are also parents like my husband who have cried every night and prayed that they could have more time with their kids. Who would pay MORE child support to have 50/50. And who will fight until there is nothing left to get time with their children. If it wasnt such a fight to get time with the children they wouldnt have to go to court and fight for more time and they wouldnt have to make laws for this. If I ever go had to go through a divorce with my husband I will be happy to do 50/50 time with him. Seeing the relationship he has with our children show how beneficial a fathers time with his kids are just the same as mine and any other mothers time with their kids are. They are no less of a parent and they do not deserve any less time with their children. We should all be thankful that there are dads out there who want time with their kids and that they have 2 loving homes.. I understand that sometimes 50/50 isnt in the best benefit of the child but sometimes neither is 80/20 but I havent seen any women posting articles about that. God gave the give of man and woman to have children and they should be given the gift to have equal time with their child.

      • Karen,
        Is there a reason, you refuse to answer questions posted by people who believe something different than you? To an outside reader, it seems that you don’t want to because the only answer you have is “the new law will prevent me from charging my clients as much” and that would not be a popular response.

        • Thank you for asking!

          There reason I don’t answer all of the questions on this post is actually fairly simple.

          I try to use this blog to help people who genuinely need and want my help. From what I can tell, most (not all, but most) of the people who have commented on this particular blog post don’t want my help. They want to use this article as a platform for their opinions.

          While I certainly don’t have to do this, I’ve decided to let people voice their opinions here. (This is, after all, a private blog!) But, I don’t have the time or energy to respond to every single person who writes here – especially when all they want to do is argue.

          Writing these blog posts and answering each and every comment myself takes an incredible amount of time. In spite of the fact that those who are commenting on this particular post have insulted me, called me names, and repeatedly said I only care about money (even though they have never even met me), I keep writing these posts and answering people’s comments for free. As a matter of fact, if anyone had bothered to look at the rest of this website, they would quickly realize that I don’t even handle contested divorce cases as a lawyer anymore.

          Whether this law passes or doesn’t pass will make no financial difference to me. I wrote what I wrote simply because I believe it to be true. That’s my opinion. Yet, I’ve come to realize that no matter what I say, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind here. So I’ve decided not to try.

          If you want to think badly of me because of that, it’s up to you. After all, you’re entitled to your opinion too.


  • Hi there Karen. Interesting article. I’m a young man, still single without my own family. Things such as the divorce rate, and the rate of shared custody favoring mothers, have had me disinterested in starting my own family for a while.

    I understand that this article is addressing the proposed laws and how their language would negatively impact court proceedings. What I wonder is if there is a way to eliminate court bias via law without the negative effects you’ve mentioned? I think the spirit of these proposed laws is to enforce gender neutrality, unless there are good reasons not to. Why should the current laws continue to allow bias? Is there a way to write laws that would eliminate the bias, but still provide flexibility in the best interests of the child? I feel like the law should enforce gender neutrality, instead of assuming that judges will adhere to it.

    • The problem is that, no matter what, you’re dealing with human beings. The law will always be interpreted and applied by human beings. (That is unless someday robots take over the world!) Human beings have biases. They have opinions. They see the world from different perspectives. They probably always will.

      What works for one family can be disastrous for the next family even though, on paper, their situations may seem similar. That’s why that, in my opinion, there MUST be discretion in family law. That is the only way that a judge can have the ability to use common sense and reason in every situation to try to do what’s best for that particular family.

      The problem, of course, is that what the judge thinks is best for the family may be different than what the father, or the mother, or the kids think. Everyone sees life from their own perspective.

      By definition, any law that allows for discretion carries with it the possibility that that discretion may be abused. Yet any law that allows for NO discretion carries with it the probability that it will have harsh and unintended consequences in some cases. Unfortunately, human beings aren’t perfect. Therefore our laws aren’t perfect either.

      All that being said, I absolutely see both sides of this debate. I think there are ways that the laws that can be written to allow judicial discretion, take into account what’s best for the kids, and yet still encourage parents to both share custody more often than they currently do. The laws that I spoke about in this article, unfortunately, don’t accomplish this – again, in my opinion.

  • I think a rebuttable presumption of roughly equal custody. How can a judge that has only met two parents for a few hours at most be in a position to render life-altering decisions, often to the advantage and disadvantage to each party? Why shouldn’t two fit, able and willing parents have a presumption of 50/50? Because as it stands now, you can walk into family court as a parent and walk out as an every-other-weekend presence in your children’s lives.
    Shouldn’t there be a burden of proof placed on the parent that wants to DEPRIVE the other parent of equal time?

    This decision is not left to a jury of your peers, who might collectively act as a buffer against the extremes of individual members. This is left in the hands of one judge. That judge’s individual biases, the parties’ respective attorneys and WHO those attorneys know could play a bigger role than the individual merits of each parent’s cases.

    And it’s not just winner-take-all. Family Court isn’t about winning; it’s about not losing. Because in a lot of cases, you can’t afford to lose. Literally. Karen, I couldn’t help but notice many of the “self-interest” or “parent-centered vs child-centered” comments you had in your post seem directed towards fathers, as if they’re the only ones that look at 50/50 custody based on financial self-interest, particularly in regards to child support. As if the mother’s don’t have a self interest in opposing 50/50? “You just want more parenting time to pay less child support” is no more valid/false than, “you just want to keep me from my kids so you can get more child support.” Sauce for the goose = sauce for the gander.

    You bemoan the impact of 50/50 on child support amounts when you mention, “Tying child support payments to parenting time causes many divorcing parents to put their kids in the middle of a financial tug-of-war.”

    That’s the parents’ fault, and not the system’s? The way it’s set up, custody is a financial asset. Pure and simple. Even assuming 183 nights vs. 182, the former enjoys filing Head-Of-Household vs. single, allowing an additional $6,000/yr in deductible income. The one with majority custody also can reap the rewards of the Child Tax Credit (unless they agree to share it via an 8332 form), and the Child and Dependent Care Credit (helps if 20%+ of your daycare expenses are reimbursed, don’t it?). The “non”-custodial parent is entitled to NONE of these.

    Then there’s child support. It’s not like having a fancy dinner for two and then arguing over who gets the check. Paying child support means you incur a financial obligation with the potential to wreak utter havoc should you fail to meet it and imposed by those that often don’t differentiate between inability and unwillingness to pay. You have to pay, no matter what. And if you need it reduced because of unemployment, you’ll need to hire an attorney when you dollars are already tight, and still have no guarantee of success. And God help you if you can’t pay up, because no one else will–you risk losing your drivers license or even jail time.

    Who in their right mind would want a financial obligation like that? And are you truly selfish if you don’t want to pay it, especially when it’s in place of what you wanted all along, which is just to provide and care for your kids the same time as the other parent?

    You bemoan the “dollars for days” of child support and parenting time litigation, but look at the laws in Illinois. Right now, there’s a parenting time adjustment to CS, but it only kicks in at 40% parenting time. There’s minimal differences in the direct expenses incurred having your kids 145 overnights/yr vs. 150 overnights/yr…but there’s a **BIG** difference in presumptive child support. Why WOULDN’T someone push for extra parenting time in a situation like that when the support order at 145 nights/yr (more or less the full “guideline amount”, which assumes the custodial parent incurs all the expenses) is clearly out of sync with the actual incurred expenses? Litigating for extra parenting time in the vicinity of that 40% “cliff” is, sadly, a rational response to an irrational policy.

    Now if the presumed custody is 50/50, both parents know the child support amount is determined by a cross-credit multiplier formula. Which means, unless there’s a huge income disparity, the CS amount–regardless of who’s paying–is a mere fraction of the unadjusted guideline support. There’s no “big trophies” to fight over, so there’s less incentive to fight red in tooth and claw.

      • I think enough is enough.Im going through this right now and I can say the whole thing is a scandal in family courts. There is no reason a father should not share his kids equally, and when the mother is only interested in aquiring a bigger paycheck through more time/cutting out the father’s time the system is definitely biased. My kids should not suffer due to financial gain and that seems to be all too common.

  • FYI
    Thoughts on Shared Parenting Presumptions
    © 2012 by Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.
    A controversial issue today in family law is whether there should be a presumption that parents should have equal (or nearly equal) shared parenting time after a separation or divorce. In theory, I can understand the drive for such a presumption and have a lot of empathy for parents seeking this, because it is important that children are raised by both of their parents and research shows that children do best with “significant” involvement of both parents (although this is generally not defined as a percentage of time).
    I have had “non-custodial” clients as a lawyer and as a high-conflict consultant, who have wanted a 50-50 presumption, as in their particular cases there has been a disturbed, high-conflict other parent who has the majority of the time and 50-50 would at least reduce the impact of that. In some of those cases, I have fought for and won schedules that were approximately 50-50 (usually parallel parenting with little direct contact between the parents), because the courts were open-minded and focused on the standard of the “best interests of the child” and that was satisfied by 50-50 in these cases.
    But I recommend strongly against a presumption to impose relatively equal parenting time. Parenting schedule decisions should be made by parents based on their own circumstances. If they have difficulty making such basic parenting decisions, they should get training in shared decision-making. They should only be handled in court if they fail to learn these skills. Then, the judge should find out what is wrong with one or both parents and make appropriate orders based on “the best interests of the child,” rather than overcoming a burdensome presumption.
    The Problem with Child-Rearing Presumptions
    A presumption takes away the flexible thinking that parents should use when raising their children and the benefits of requiring parents to work together to develop a plan that fits their own circumstances. Children will go through many stages growing up, including times when it may be very appropriate to have more time with one or the other parent. There are also many cases of abuse and alienation in which such shared parenting time is really inappropriate and would be particularly harmful to a child.
    While a presumption could be overcome in theory, in my work I have met many parents who would be too intimidated by such a presumption or lack the resources for a big court battle against a high-conflict parent. In addition, most of the families who end up in family court are there because one of the parents (sometimes both) has a serious problem: domestic violence, child abuse, child alienation, false allegations, substance abuse and so forth. These are problems that should be examined without hurdles that will make it harder to find the truth and deal with it appropriately. I have worked hard against presumptions that fathers are abusive or that mothers are alienating. After growing success at opening the minds of legal professionals, it seems like it would be a step backwards to now impose such a broad presumption.
    Agreed-Upon Schedules
    In reality, as a lawyer, counselor, mediator and consultant, I have worked with many parents who use shared parenting schedules that are approximately 50-50. However, these are determined by the parents by agreement, based on their own circumstances, resources, and history of flexibility and sharing. I have many more parents who have schedules in which one parent has less than 30% of the parenting time and it works very well. The key factor in these successful schedules is that these decisions are being made by the parents, not imposed on them by the court. The child feels that both parents are generally satisfied with their parenting time and both parents make the best of their parenting time in giving the child good experiences.
    There is also flexibility in these families, so that they may change to more or less time as work schedules change and the child grows older. I have had cases in which the child changed from being primarily at one parent’s house to the other parent’s house, and then back a year later – all based on the good cooperation of the parents and the comfort of the child to express changing preferences without upsetting one or both parents.
    When I started my law practice in 1993, I represented clients in family court and also did divorce mediations in my office. I went to a presentation by William Hodges, Ph.D., a divorce researcher and author of the highly regarded book Interventions for Children of Divorce (1991) which is still quite relevant. He said that research was making it clear that the best parenting schedule was one which both parents supported. Even if it was an odd schedule, including lots of exchanges or long stretches of time, what really mattered was the agreement of the parents.
    Children follow their parents’ lead emotionally when learning what is “normal” and what helps their parents feel “okay.” On the other hand, even a very normal schedule won’t work, if one or both parents are upset about it. The children absorb their parents’ emotions much more than most parents realize. Dr. Hodges also said that research showed that parents followed their own agreements over 80% of the time, but only actually followed court-ordered schedules slightly more than 40% of the time.
    With this in mind, I have told parents for the past 19 years in my practice that they need to put more effort into reaching an agreement than into fighting for the “right” parenting schedule for a child. It needs to be a team effort, otherwise it tends to pull children apart. However, I tell them that there are general principles for at least 3 basic age groups, which most parents take seriously in making their proposals to each other:
    Different Needs at Different Ages

    • I couldn’t agree more! Thank you so much for sharing your opinion. Given your extensive experience and expertise working with high conflict couples, your perspective is particularly helpful. Thank you.


  • Thanks! Karen!
    (NOTE: This is a continuation of Bill Eddy’s previous comment.)
    © 2012 by Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.
    Different Needs at Different Ages
    Birth to age 5:
    Generally, this is a period when children need lots of stability and “secure attachment” experiences with both parents. Generally, it appears best to have one parent with the majority of the time and the other parent having frequent access, although this doesn’t have to be long to be beneficial for this age child. It’s the frequency that matters. For various reasons, biological and historical, mothers have had the majority of time during these years, although fathers have been very actively and successfully involved as long as they didn’t undermine the development of a secure attachment with the mother. The most important part is that the child has a secure attachment with both parents, regardless of time: that they are predictable, consistent and emotionally available when they are with the child.
    I agree with the majority of researchers I have read over the past thirty years, such as the following comments in the introduction to a recent journal on the subject of child attachment in divorce:
    One widespread view shared by this Issue’s contributors is that children should be assigned to the primary custody of one parenting figure (whether mother or father) across approximately the first three years of life…. Such a position – if taken consistently by the court – should contribute to the alleviation of this often central focus of parental stress, confusion and contentiousness. In addition, many papers in this Issue may also serve to reduce the worries of the ‘visiting’ parent via an understanding that his or her relationship during infancy and toddlerhood need not ultimately be ‘secondary’ in any important sense. Thus, so long as the ‘visiting’ parent can maintain regularity of contact which involves lively, sensitive interactions with the child, the child’s opportunity for forming a full and secure attachment to that parent will remain intact. Judges informed by these views can (a) alleviate the strain incurred by both parents engaged in a well-meaning but untoward attempts at designing ‘half-and-half’ early care arrangements; and (b) reassure the ‘secondary’, ‘visiting’ parent that his/her opportunity for establishing a full relationship with the child need not be compromised.
    Attachment Theory and Research, Main et al., Family Court Review, Vol. 49 No. 3, July 2011 (426-463), 427.
    When my clients are the parents with much less parenting time during this period, I reassure them that these early years are laying the groundwork for all future relationships for the child, so that having stability and security of contact for the child with the other parent will benefit my client in developing a relationship later on of equal significance, whether or not there is equal time later on. In some of my cases, it has been the father who has had the majority of this parenting time and the child has developed quite a secure primary attachment. However, most of the time it has been the mother and there is some research that reinforces the biological precedent for this – from pregnancy to children having more neurons for processing a woman’s voice in early childhood.
    In either case, it is more important that the child have at least one consistently secure attachment at this age, than to have two insecure attachments with parents who are undermining each other. Of course, if the primary parent is seriously disturbed then he or she should have much less than 50% of the parenting time so that the other parent (assuming he or she is less disturbed) can provide a secure primary attachment. However, in general, both parents can have secure attachments during this age period, even if one has a lot more time than the other.
    It’s the interactive quality and consistency of the relationship that makes it secure or not, not the amount of time. A presumption for equal shared parenting time during these early years could undermine the child’s ability to develop a secure attachment with either parent and thereby undermine his or her sense of security and long-term personality development (insecure early childhood attachment appears to be one of the main factors in developing adult personality disorders).
    Age 5-12:
    Generally, this is the age range when children seem to do fine with relatively equal shared parenting. There are a variety of schedules (2-2-5-5; alternate weeks – with a mid-week visit with the other parent; etc.) that seem to work, so long as the parents both support the schedule. If they don’t both support the schedule, then it’s easy to make this fail. (I’ve seen many cases where one parent who is uncomfortable with the schedule says “it’s too many back-and-forths” or “too long away.” Then the child appears to absorb this parent’s concern and makes the exact same complaints – even though many other children with relaxed parents seem to do fine with these schedules.) The key here is that these are cooperative parents, and that their children have been raised with both parents actively involved.
    There are many other children who experience significant distress by having a shared parenting schedule, who are much happier to have a primary parent (65% or more) and less time with the other parent. Fighting against such a schedule usually increases the child’s anxiety, rather than increasing their happiness. Of course, there are some cases (domestic violence, alienation, etc.) in which I have encouraged a “noncustodial” parent to fight for a change in custody because the primary parent has had serious behavior problems.
    But if the effort has not succeeded after a year or two, I have advised many parents to stop the fight if they have at least 25% of the parenting time, as it will not help the child to be raised in the context of an endless battle. I have had several cases in which the noncustodial parent developed a much stronger relationship after the child turned 18 or 20, because they had stopped the battle years before when it was clear it was not succeeding. Shared parenting time based on a presumption would have increased these conflicts rather than reducing them – and we know that stressed parents pass it on to their children.
    Age 13-18:
    Generally, this is an age where children should be developing friendships and social skills with peers, while counting on the support of their parents. Parenting schedules have to become more flexible during this age period, especially as a child reaches 15 or 16. Imposing a schedule just doesn’t work, unless the parents have sacrificed the child’s need for increased autonomy to satisfy their own security needs through the child. Generally, children in this age group should be developing their own activity schedules – within reasonable limits set by both parents.
    Thus, shared parenting time that is approximately equal often becomes highly restrictive for adolescents and they often simply don’t follow it. In reality, they often have a home base that is more likely to be one parent’s house, rather than spending time with that one parent. I have had many cases in which an older teenager (usually 17-18) spends a dinner a week with one parent and the rest of the time at the other parent’s house. But this dinner-a-week has a lot of meaning and flexibility (just negotiating which night it will be helps the teen develop planning skills that will apply to success in the future). A shared parenting presumption for this age group will simply be ignored by many teens, unless enforced strictly by a parent who probably is uninformed about adolescent development.
    For years, judges have understood that they cannot really enforce schedules with children over about age 15. A better solution for a parent who feels limited or estranged from a teenager, is to get some kind of counseling assistance that includes both parents and the child (like our New Ways for Families method, which involves both parents in structured sessions with the child). Discussing and problem-solving the teenager’s relationship with each parent will help the teen learn relationships skills that an imposed schedule will not. For many years I was a child and family counselor working with many teenagers, before I became a family law attorney. Teenagers need to learn relationship skills – including dealing with one or two difficult parents – rather than learning that relationship problems can be solved simply by percentages.
    It has been said that you can find research to support any opinion, and that is particularly true in the area of parenting after divorce or separation. However, most of the research emphasizes different aspects of the same problem, so that we can benefit from looking at the research – so long as we make the effort to understand it. The following are quotes from studies reported in the Family Court Review, the journal of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), one of the most respected sources of information on parenting in divorce.
    Some studies support equal shared parenting schedules:
    Respondents [college students in one study] wanted to have spent more time with their fathers as they were growing up, and the living arrangement they believed was best was living equal time with each parent. The living arrangements they had as children gave them generally little time with their fathers. Respondents reported that their fathers wanted more time with them but that their mothers generally did not want them to spend more time with their fathers. (Fabricius and Hall, Young Adult Perspectives on Divorce, Family Court Review, October 2000.)
    The present findings [in another college student study] indicate that divorce leaves young people with strong feelings of “missed opportunities” and “emotional longing” for a father-child relationship – feelings that remain salient for years after the divorce has been finalized….The present results thus are consistent with calls for family law reform mandating that children spend equal amounts of time with their mothers and fathers following divorce. (Schwartz and Finley, Mothering, Fathering, and Divorce: The Influence of Divorce or Reports of and Desires for Maternal and Paternal Involvement, Family Court Review, July 2009.)
    Other studies oppose shared parenting mandates:
    Australian family law now endorses the active consideration of equal or substantively shared parenting in most cases where parents are able to share overall parental responsibility and decision-making [defined as] a division of care between parents at a rate of 35:65% or higher. [Prior to the new legislation, such an arrangement] was “relatively rare,” occurring in about 9% of the general population of divorcing families in 2003. It was a parenting arrangement that proved viable for a small and distinct group of families …electing a shared arrangement [with] the ability of parents to get along sufficiently well….
    [In contrast] the literature is stronger on the poor fit between shared parenting and unremitting post-divorce conflict. Beginning two decades ago, Johnston and colleagues…identified cautions against substantively shared parenting for children whose parents’ ongoing acrimony and inability to encapsulate their conflict meant continued exposure to toxic inter-personal dynamics and the diminished responsiveness of each parent….
    [After] four years children in shared care arrangements… reported sustained levels of inter-parental conflict, while children in traditional [primary parent] arrangements reported significant decline [in conflict]. Children in shared care were also significantly more likely to report feeling caught in the middle of their parents’ conflict [and] children more often wished to change [the shared arrangement]. (McIntosh, Legislating for Shared Parenting: Exploring Some Underlying Assumptions, Family Court Review, July 2009.)
    It helps to look at the different emphases of these studies. The first favoring more father contact was reported during the college years. It appears that these young adults grew up when fathers were generally less involved than many are today – by the agreement of both parents. From my recent mediation cases, I have observed that younger parents are much more likely to develop parenting plans with a greater role for fathers than I observed when I started my law practice in 1993. However, the majority of these plans are not equal shared parenting plans, but often 25-30% with fathers who are satisfied with these schedules. If the young adults in the first set of studies had this amount of time with their fathers and if their mothers supported their father’s relationship with them, it may be that they would have felt more satisfied. Their opinions about equal parenting time were a conjecture rather than based on experience. Their perspective may have also been based on their more recent adolescent years.
    The second set of studies (McIntosh reports on Johnston’s studies as well as her own), emphasize the experience of younger children living in shared parenting arrangements – and feeling distress. When I heard Jennifer McIntosh speak at the 2011 AFCC conference, I remember her examples of children about 8 years old and younger. Especially in a culture where only 9% of divorced families had a history of shared parenting, it may be these children felt frustrated because of their young age and their experiences with young peers who appeared to have the “benefit” of growing up with a “primary” parent.
    What this research suggests to me is that there are two very different issues involved here:
    1) At what age is a primary parent preferable and at what age is shared parenting preferable?
    2) Does shared parenting work if it is imposed, rather than the agreement of the parents?
    It appears to me, from reading this and a lot of other research, that there really are at least three distinctly separate age periods affected by children of divorce and separation, with different abilities and needs, as I described above. Equal shared parenting arrangements appear very likely to fail during the first 3 years – the most important formative years of a child’s life. While I have seen some highly cooperative couples manage this by age 4, I have also seen children of 6 and 7 struggling with equal shared schedules. A significant factor is the parenting history. Moving suddenly from a primary parent system (say, 80-20) to shared parenting system (say, 50-50), can be traumatic for a child who might otherwise handle it as a gradual transition.
    Likewise, from my experience and observations, I have seen many cooperative 50-50 parenting plans for children age 5-12 change to one primary house during the teenage years, at the insistence of an active teenager, when it became hard to keep his or her “stuff” going back and forth. It wasn’t about the parents – it was about having a home base. However, I have also seen several 50-50 plans continue throughout adolescence, although not as many as those that changed to one primary household.
    Legislating Shared Parenting
    All states and provinces currently mandate significant parenting time for both parents, unless there are compelling reasons (domestic violence, child abuse, etc.) not to do so. It is universally seen as in “the best interests of the child.” However, mandating percentages of time has been avoided, as children and parenting are too complex to resolve with a calculator, the way that child support can be done.
    Yet several states and provinces have strong movements desiring mandated shared parenting. While I understand this, as described above, and have clients who are part of such movements, I think that such a mandate will not accomplish its desired goals and will be overturned within a few years of its establishment – because it is too large of an intervention for a problem that is not as widespread as it feels.
    For example, in the Australian study of parenting plans developed in court-mandated mediation in which the parents were required to “actively consider equal or substantively shared parenting,” the research showed that shared parenting plans (35-65% or higher) didn’t last more than a year, whereas primary parenting plans (less than 35-65%) were more stable.
    Primary parenting plan mediated, still in place 49%
    Shared parenting plan mediated, but now primary 28%
    Shared parenting plan mediated, still in place 17%
    Primary parenting plan mediated, but now shared 6%
    In the United States, Canada and Australia, the vast majority of separated and divorced parents (approximately 80% or more) reach agreements for parenting on their own, out of court, which is always preferable to a court imposed parenting plan. They don’t need a new mandate. While some parents – especially fathers – would like to have more time, they have reached agreements that appear to fit the reality of their lives, which includes much more time than their fathers had with their children. The fathers’ rights movement dates back to the 1980’s, when partly due to its efforts the courts shifted to standards that no longer gave mothers automatic priority but instead considered “the best interests of the child.” Since then, fathers have dramatically increased their involvement in their children’s lives. Many more have become the primary parent than ever before, and many have had equal shared parenting for some periods of their children’s lives.
    The majority of parents who bring their parenting disputes to family court have also been satisfied enough to accept the outcome, although not always happily. I have represented mothers who lost custody and I have represented fathers who won custody. So I know that it is not exclusively a fathers’ rights issue, although that is how it may appear to the public. Nowadays, in court, mothers are getting less time with the children than they did in the past and fathers are getting more. In my almost 20 years as a family law attorney in California, we are much closer to gender neutrality than ever before.
    Even when court orders are made, as I explained above, these court orders are not always followed and the parents end up doing some other arrangement anyway on their own – for better or for worse. While some parents may give up on the one hand or grab more time than the order says on the other hand, I don’t believe that mandated shared parenting orders will make much of a difference to them, since they are not following the court’s orders anyway.
    A Small Percentage of Parents
    There is a small percentage of people who have been to family court about parenting issues and were highly dissatisfied. This includes some people who have been wronged by the court system because they had one of the worst attorneys, evaluators or judges. Yes, there are some of each, but fortunately a small percentage – as in all fields. Unethical attorneys can be disbarred. Unethical evaluators can have complaints filed. Unethical judges can be relieved of their duties. This does happen occasionally.
    The proponents of shared parenting presumptions are sincerely trying to make things better and see a shared parenting mandate as a solution. Unfortunately, it is a universal solution applied to a narrow problem for a few. Our legal system is an incredibly flexible system and I believe a more effective approach would be to educate the courts and the public about parenting and co-parenting, rather than imposing a presumption.
    The other group of people who are highly dissatisfied includes those parents whose own bad behavior was exposed and family court decisions were made because of that – yet they are unable to see it. Some of these people have high-conflict personalities and blame others for everything to unconsciously deflect from their own behavior. Such high-conflict people will not be satisfied regardless of what happens, including legislated presumptions. For them the “issue’s not the issue,” their personality is the “issue.” They will always find a new issue and see others at fault.
    Instead of solving a widespread problem, legislating a mandate for shared parenting with a percentage attached will create a widespread problem. Just as many people refinance their mortgages when rates are lowered, I believe that many parents with existing custody and access orders will return to court to change them if such a mandate goes through. Rather than creating less litigation, it will create more.
    I also know that when “one size fits all” solutions are applied legislatively to the courts, that they sometimes end up getting overturned. In California we had the 3 Strikes law for criminals, which was supposed to solve the “problem” of judges using too much discretion in making sentencing orders. However, a few years later it had to be changed to allow judges discretion again.
    Judges are not a major problem – in family law or elsewhere. Family court is not broken – it is just facing mental health problems among litigants that it is just now learning how to handle. Yes, there are huge social problems in society and huge positive social changes. Let’s not try to find a large group to blame. One of the most positive social changes of the last thirty years has been having children raised with substantial involvement of both of their parents, which has been significantly promoted by the courts. Let’s not mess it up with an all-or-nothing solution which ties judges’ hands. Instead, let’s focus on educating parents and giving them the skills to be successful co-parents, so that children are not further caught in the middle. Children should feel that their parents are with them because they love them, not because of a calculation.

  • Texas for example has a presumption that a ‘Stamdard Possession Order’ is in the child’s best interest. That equates to about a 25/75 time split. In actuality the law states that it is the presumptive minimum that should be ordered but in practice it is the rubber stamp that gets issued at every temporary orders hearing, with the Father being the one who gets 25% time of the children’s time. The reason ‘90%’ of divorces settle out of court is because it is almost pointless to try and fight against the bias. A father who fights for 50/50 is likely to spend $30k-$40k on attorneys fees, which is great for the attorneys but bad for the kids, whose parents are now financially weakened. Any dad who is willing to spend that much money fighting for an extra day a week with his kid can’t reasonably be seen as someone doing it to reduce his child support. It would be far cheaper to not fight and just pay the child support. It is a matter of principal in many ways. Why should either side have an advantage right out of the gate? Children and parents have a constitutional right to access to one another. A parent who is fighting against equality in parenting time is fighting for the alienation of the child from that parent, which in and of itself is abuse. Just because an order says 50/50 doesn’t mean the parents have to practice it if a different situation is best for the child, it just says that is what the parent and the child’s rights are. Parents, not judges, should be who determines what is in a child’s best interest. Divorce Courts spend minutes deciding these matters, parents spend their whole lives thinking about what is best for their kids. Family Law groups oppose these types of laws because they will ultimately lead to less litigation, which will cost them money. State legislatures often oppose them because if 50/50 is the standard and child support is not ordered then the state will lose money from federal title IV-D money. Most divorces are initiated by women but I wonder if it would still be that way without the practical guarantee that they will be granted majority possession of the children and a monthly stipend from their husband under penalty of prison for not paying. Domestic abuse is obviously a valid reason for pursuing a divorce but it is incorrectly assumed that women are usually the victims of domestic violence. In reality it is equal or the opposite. That fact is rarely publicized or recognized. It is a double standard. Society thinks no real man can be abused by a woman, just like boys can not be raped or sexually harassed by women. If man wants to leave a marriage because of abuse, he is likely to lose a disproportionate amount of access to his children and be forced to pay the abusive wife support unless he has a large amount of money to spend on attorneys get EQUAL time, the likelihood of a father ending up with more than 50% is almost zero without extremely egregious facts that are easily proved.

  • The case that men only want 50/50 to lessen child support doesn’t hold an ounce of water. Do you believe that clothes and food for the child cost less for a dad, than what mom pays? I pay $765 a month in CS, and if it truly cost that much a month to raise a kid, then me having 50/50 wouldn’t change what I pay, if that is really the cost. Yes, I may give my ex less in CS, but I will have them more time, therefore, what I pay out wouldn’t change. Right? I’m not sure where you got your research, but most experts say that children thrive when they have equal time with both parents. It’s time that lawyers do the right thing, if both parents are fit, and suggest equal time with both parents.

    • The child support limit in Texas is just under $9,000/month for two children. What two children need $9,000/month? This is a lot more than most families make when both Husband and Wife work. Majority of Fathers want to provide child support for their children! Father’s want this money spent on their children and guarantees that it is spent only on their children and in fairness should not be used by ex-wife to increase her personal quality of life. Why can’t the Judge at time of divorce require a separate bank account be set up for the children ONLY, whereby whatever goes in (by Mother, Father, Grandparents, etc) is for the children AND what comes out is monitored monthly or annually to ensure only used for the children?

      Something else totally unfair is that my ex-wife next boyfriend or husband will be allowed by Texas Law to spend more time with my two daughters than I am (I presently 12% – Overnight once a week and 9Am every other Saturday to 9Am every other Sunday).

      This is UNJUST and NOT MORAL!!!!

  • To add to my original post. You state repeatedly ” There is no one size fits all solution. “Yet you have absolutely no argument against the fact that in EVERY jurisdiction in EVERY state it is one size fits all with the every other weekend and one night a week. This is what exists so offer up proof to your readers who have been respectful here as to how we don’t already have and that the majority of lawyers don’t already support a completely gender biased one size fits all system. Regardless of how good or fit a father is he is not considered in the same way the mother is.

  • The consensus views of academic experts are summarized in articles by Dr. Linda Nielsen, Professor of Adolescent & Educational Psychology at Wake Forest University in Re-examining the Research on Parental Conflict, Co-parenting, and Custody Arrangements (2017) Psychology, Public Policy, and Law Journal, Vol 23 at 211 and Shared Physical Custody: Does It Benefit Most Children? (2015) 1 Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 79 28 J. Am. Acad. Matrim. Law. 79 (2015). The views are not, as lawyers without subject matter expertise would have it ” all over the place”. And while research shows “conflict” can harm children, we al know that litigation is now just a by word for financial violence. It is the counter factual, and it is more erratic, and more expensive than a than a presumptive law . We use law to demarcate in many areas of social policy , and live with some sub optimal outcomes. The reason why equal parenting is sane is two fold. 1. Those opposed have tried their solutions and have failed 2. Equal parenting is mutually reinforcing. It doesn’t need lots of left wing judges to run around making orders for working families at great expense that are never enforced. There is only one international trend that’s relevant and growing: equality.

  • It is NOT moral and sad that anyone would believe that a good, law abiding Father should have any less than 50% physical time with his children after a divorce! Do you believe God intended for a good Father to have the time with his children equivalent to that of an uncle instead of a Father? How can this be anything but discrimination and inhumane towards a Father? What happens in today’s world if two Gay men have an adopted child and separate and go to courts with custody issue? Will the judge give one man the time I am presently given to be with my daughters in Texas (12% of time) and the other man the time his is giving my ex-wife (88%)? Or, will the judge give each man 50%? Whatever the judge does in this example is discrimination against me for being a non Gay Father!!!!

  • Here are the results of documented studies and 110 World-Wide experts!

    THE PROBLEM FOR OUR CHILDREN A rapidly growing number of children, nearly 30%, are being raised in households where the mother and father no longer live together. The majority of these children, 86%, live with their mothers.

    The Center for Disease Control, the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of the Census report: the 30% of children who live apart from their fathers will account for 63% of teen suicides; 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions; 71% of high-school dropouts; 75% of children in chemical-abuse centers; 85% of rapists; 85% of youths in prison; 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and 90% of homeless and runaway children.

    How do the adult children of divorce and separation feel about Equal Parenting?
    – Only 7% felt their mothers wanted them to spend equal amounts of time with each parent.
    – 85% of children wanted more time with their fahters.
    – 70% of all children believed equal time with each parent was best. HOWEVER, 93% of those who actually lived equal time with each parent, believed it was best.
    – Over 70% knew their fathers wanted more time and wanted to live equally with them; they also knew their mothers opposed it.

    Equal Parenting time is linked to better outcomes for children of all ages across a wide range of emotional, behavioral and physical health measures. Equal parenting time: a.) limits at risk youth b.) Is preferred by children c.) diminishes major societal issues d.) Is endorsed in 2018 by majority of professional.

  • Parents have eternal rights, duties and responsibilities with regard to their children. This goes equally for both father and mother. For a parent and child, being together is an essential part of family life. Their separation has irremediable negative effects on their relationship and the up-bringing of the children. Equality between parents must be guaranteed and promoted from the moment the child arrives.

    Assigning children to one of the parents during custody hearings using template approach and without consideration for family life stand in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5).

    Courts’ inconsideration for family life is unfair to women who want men to take responsibility for their children, to men who want to look after their children and have an active presence in their lives but must importantly ignores children’s voice and their fundamental right as well as unquestionable need for spending equal amount of time with both of the parents. This itself violates 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified as well as numerous international legal instruments.

    “50/50 Equal Parenting offers solution to eliminate the primary reason and sometimes the only reason of argument between parents during their divorce. It establishes solid foundation for both parents to seek for amicable solution but most importantly PROTECTS THE CHILDREN BY REMOVING POSSIBILITY FOR EITHER PARENT (mostly women) TO USE CHILDREN AS AN INSTRUMENT OF BLACKMAIL.

  • “50/50 Equal Parenting Law is not good news for lawyers and I am not surprised they are not the biggest fans of the new law. Abuse of children and using them as an instrument of blackmail will not stop unless both mothers and fathers have equal parental rights.

  • I just went through this…..not sure on the judges decision…. I had to represent myself… I got the best interest of my child drilled in my ear on top of complete intimidation and repeat everything I said ten times because the lawyer would try twist the narrative and how it’s impossible and not good on the child to have equal time …..have my ex testify…If you pull up mrs fords testimony against judge kavanah it was identical stating how I would try touching her when I came to get the kid ….stated we broke up a year before we actually did….Do they give a shit about how well you bond with your child ? No …idk if that got brought up….wait they asked if Ik when her birthday was….they just couldn’t get over how I’m not making more and interrogated that and beat it to death……so what’s family courts benifit? To promote and make narcissist and paint images to everyone of a false narrative….. alienation And possible jail time and take drivers license away to guys like me who have a clean record ? Who believes in equality accountability and self worth and making my own ….. life’s not that hard worry about what you can control if you end up bringing a kid into this world grow the eff up step up and hold yourself accountable for who you chose as a partner….

  • I think you’re looking at this entirely the wrong way. It is the CHILDREN who have the right to be with each of their parents equally. Those fighting for 50/50 custody are, in effect, fighting for their children’s rights (in addition to their own). If the NCP has been charged with domestic violence, that is something that the judge should have extreme latitude over (and usually does). If the NCP lives hours away, that should also factor into the equation. If these are not factors under consideration on a particular state’s law, it should not be worked on, not discarded. However, this is not the case in most situations, and depriving the children not in those situations of their rights to equal parenting is not just unjust, but it morally / logically bankrupt.

    In my state, there is a presumption of 70/30 or, if you fight for it, 60/40. Unless the mom is a drug addict, she tends to get the higher percentage. In my case, my kids only get to see me 40 percent of the time. If I were to take my ex back to court, I would have to provide a compelling reason why my children should be entitled to both of their parents equally. It would be an expensive and, most likely, fruitless, fight.

    I would like to have a more consistent time with my children so that I could work with them to stop wetting the bed, for example (Oh, btw, kids are 18 and still in HS and 14). I’ve taken them to the doctor for this (mom has not), but without a number of days in a row with the kids, there isn’t enough consistency to work on this. Their mom is a classic “helicoptor mom”, believing that the purpose of high school is for them to have fun rather than to prepare them for what comes next. This results in my 18 year old sincerely believing that the purpose of life is “her happiness” regardless of anyone else’s concerns. She is going to have a hell of a rude awakening next year and through life with this attitude, but it is reinforced 60% of the time.

    I’ve proposed equal time with my ex and have been told, literally, “take me to court”. The way the law is biased, again, I would likely not prevail and the attempt would cost me tens of thousands of dollars. My child support payment covers her mortgage, utilities, and grocery bills. It also covers her maid service and spa membership. The interesting thing is that in my state, even if the kids got to see us equally, it wouldn’t affect my child support by a single dollar. So scratch the idea of every guy looking for 50/50 to save a few bucks. Honestly, in my case, having the kids more would cost me money, but I am putting my kid’s needs before my pocketbook.

    I support the 50/50 movement since I believe that it protects the kid’s rights to have each parent equally in their lives. If it is abused by guys trying to lower their child support payments, consider that the current shared custody status quo is abused by mothers trying to get more money. Both are wrong. Honestly, I think my state has it right not tying support to custody percentages. This should be emulated. Now we just need to work on making sure the children’s rights to equal time with their parents should be respected.

    Time to go. I’ve got to pick up the kids.

      • Thank you for this article, this is exactly what I have been struggling with, and saying for the past year and a half though my divorce. For me the point of this article is sincerely about what’s best for the children. I live in Florida, and while the law hasn’t passed, the judges are moving in that direction based on the movement towards 50/50 presumed equal time sharing. And I think that is unfortunate. The courts also basically allow for each parent to parent completly independently. In my experience, this has lead to different expectations, rules, lifestyles, and even religions being practiced in each home. My ex has said “you can do what you want if your home when the kids are with you, and I will do whatever I want when they are with me”.. regardless of what we used to do, choices we made together prior to the divorce, and even the stability of our children across our homes, and their life experiences. Children are resilient, sure, but allowing such vast differences will inevitably take a toll. My anaology: a piece of furniture would start to fall apart if painted pink 1/2 the week and blue the other. The equal time, only works when both parents are truly committed to co-parenting together. And with limited flexibility, these laws are creating environments of even more instability. I can share only my experience/circumstance: father worked 2 hours away for the children’s entire life, so was home late at night and Sundays, he was incarcerated for a year, is a convicted felon, and continues to drink, and yet, the burden of proof is on me to show he shouldn’t get 50/50 equal time. Again, regardless of his historical involvement with the children, and regardless of their stability. This is what the equal parenting laws lead to, and what the article highlighted. Just a few things about me, I am supportive of quality time with both parents. I am also committed to solely paying for all of my children’s expenses (I already have been), or child support. (I’m a firm believer children should be supported regardless of their parents relationship decisions). My boyfriend has 50/50, because he was an active part of his children’s life, and with his children EVERY single day (prior to divorce). This made sense for him and their mom. This made sense for their children, and their specific family. With my situation, it does not. Yet, I have spent an exorbitant amount of money trying to prove, my ex should have shared quality time (I think 70/30 or 60/40- is fair).

        • Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I truly appreciate it.

          I also agree completely. In my opinion, the law needs to be flexible. Putting the children first is the whole point.

          Thanks again.


  • Interesting, the overwhelming responses back concur that Shared Parenting is the best solution overall for children and both parents!

    • Overwhelming, yes, but it depends on which dog you have in the fight.

      Shared parenting (i.e. 70/30 or 60/40) seems to be the overwhelming response among female respondents. This isn’t surprising considering that they typically are the one awarded this. Equal parenting (50/50) seems to be the overwhelming response from the guys.

      As more states move toward equal parenting, it seems that the kids are doing OK with it. That, to me, seems to be the overwhelming yardstick we measure things by.

      • Thank! Paul!
        You are absolutely right! 100% right!
        As more states move toward equal parenting ….
        In my case, I got 50/50 from 1st time went to the Court. The Judge made the right decision from 1st time. My daughter are only 4 years old. One week I got 3 days, one week I got 4 days. I don’t have to pay Child Support. All medical bill, I pay 1/2, my ex-wife pay 1/2. I am living in Texas.
        In divorce, the kids getting hurt anyway. Don’t let the kids getting more hurt with Shared parenting (i.e. 70/30 or 60/40).

        • The major take away for me is that 50/50 works for some, and not for others. In circumstances that require a judge to make the determination, all aspects should be considered. These laws are designed to create an even larger burden of proof, instead of reviewing the facts and details and determining what’s best and what makes the most sense for each family. I can tell you from my experience dealing with a judge that is 50/50, the burden of proof, within the judicial system is beyond frustrating- and certainly not fair. Think about it- what your children say, can’t be used (unless there is a guardian assigned), almost every is considered hear say, even if you’ve seen it with your own eyes or have documented proof- getting it admissible is a uphill battle. That’s the point, having to prove something, like in my situation, a father that drinks until passing out (with the kids) drives after drinking- illegally drives vehicles with a suspended license- with the right attorney and enough money- is hard to get in. And the 50/50 laws only make it harder. Both parents should have rights, but the law shouldnt create an unfair burden on those with less resources. Thank you for this article, this is exactly what I have been struggling with, and saying for the past year and a half though my divorce. For me the point of this article is sincerely about what’s best for the children. I live in Florida, and while the law hasn’t passed, the judges are moving in that direction based on the movement towards 50/50 presumed equal time sharing. And I think that is unfortunate. The courts also basically allow for each parent to parent completly independently. In my experience, this has lead to different expectations, rules, lifestyles, and even religions being practiced in each home- (all changes made during the divorce) My ex has said “you can do what you want if your home when the kids are with you, and I will do whatever I want when they are with me”.. regardless of what we used to do, choices we made together prior to the divorce, or the stability of our children across our homes, and their life experiences. Children are resilient, sure, but allowing such vast differences will inevitably take a toll. My anaology: a piece of furniture would start to fall apart if painted pink 1/2 the week and blue the other. The equal time, only works when both parents are truly committed to co-parenting together. And with limited flexibility, these laws are creating environments of instability. I can share only my experience/circumstance: father worked 2 hours away for the children’s entire life, so was home late at night and Sundays, he was incarcerated for a year, is a convicted felon, continues to drink, and yet, the burden of proof is on me to show he is “unfit” or causing harm. Regardless of what his relationship has been with his kids, regardless of his personal choices and how they impact his children and regardless of the danger he puts them in. This is what the equal parenting leads to, there is nothing fair about presumed equal time. It should be Presumed relative time, to their involvement, and their commitment to co-parenting, and their children. – but the fact is parents are not always created equal- not all
          Mothers and Not all Fathers- each situation should be handled independently for each family. For example My boyfriend has 50/50, because he was an active part of his children’s life, and with his children EVERY day (prior to divorce). This made sense for him and their mom. This made sense for their children, and their specific family. To be clear- I am supportive of quality time with both parents. Period, but forcing equal time, instead of reasonable quality time- is not only unrealistic but harmful- I’ve seen it in my children. I felt strongly I needed to ensure they had a strong relationship with their father. But the 50/50 arrangement has negatively impacted my children. They went from resilient, thoughtful, strong, independent children- to possessive, clingy, emotional children. They didn’t have this much disruption, even with their dad going to jail! That’s the biggest point I can make- both my children were happier and more stable, mentally and emotionally even with their father going away for a year, than they are now spending 50% of their time with him.. again, each family and situation is different and should be treated that way.

  • Dear Karen,
    Please see the following email I recently submitted to all seven Texas State Representatives of the Texas Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee which is related to your published topic.

    “Dear State Representative,

    I am reaching out to you since you are a distinguished member of the Texas Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee. Thank you in advance for all you have done for so many Texans!

    I respectfully request you read the following results of documented studies and 110 World-Wide experts regarding the raising of children in the United States where the Mother and Father do NOT live together. After you read the below facts, I would be honored to discuss with you further by phone or in person!

    “THE PROBLEM FOR OUR CHILDREN A rapidly growing number of children, nearly 30%, are being raised in households where the Mother and Father no longer live together. The majority of these children, 86%, live with their mothers.

    The Center for Disease Control, the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of the Census report: the 30% of children who live apart from their Fathers will account for 63% of teen suicides; 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions; 71% of high-school dropouts; 75% of children in chemical-abuse centers; 85% of rapists; 85% of youths in prison; 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and 90% of homeless and runaway children.

    How do the adult children of divorce and separation feel about Equal Parenting?
    – Only 7% felt their mothers wanted them to spend equal amounts of time with each parent.
    – 85% of children wanted more time with their fathers.
    – 70% of all children believed equal time with each parent was best. HOWEVER, 93% of those who actually lived equal time with each parent, believed it was best.
    – Over 70% knew their fathers wanted more time and wanted to live equally with them; they also knew their mothers opposed it.

    Equal Parenting time is linked to better outcomes for children of all ages across a wide range of emotional, behavioral and physical health measures. Equal parenting time: a.) limits at risk youth b.) Is preferred by children c.) diminishes major societal issues d.) Is endorsed in 2018 by majority of professional.

    In recent years many states have passed Equal Parenting Laws. The Equal Parenting trend will undoubtedly continue due to more Americans exposure to the actual research facts (presented above) and the information to follow. I am quite positive this will become the standard “starting point” law in all U.S. states in the near future.

    Personally, I am going through a divorce and find it unbelievable, immoral and discriminating that the present Texas Laws provide the Father with considerably less time with their children than Mothers. God blessed BOTH my wife and I with two beautiful daughters and I find it very difficult to comprehend that God would approve of the present Texas Standard Possession Law following a divorce. It is morally wrong!. My wife is much younger than I (23 years younger). She will most likely remarry some day. It seems incredibly unjust to me that the next man in her life will legally have more time with my two daughters than I will be given. I believe too that the present Texas Standard Possession Law discriminates against Texas Fathers. For example, if two gay men who have an adopted child went before a Judge in Texas regarding child custody, what would the Texas Judge rule regarding the child possession orders? I argue that whatever decision the Texas Judge would make in such a child custody case would be discriminating against me for being a NON-Gay Father!

    For a moment, please put yourself in my (and so many fellow Father’s) place regarding this issue! How would you feel and react? Think too how many legal and domestic issues might be diminished if both the Divorcing Mother and Father were given the same equal time with their “children / blessings from God”? One of the absolutely wonderful discoveries from states already implementing child custody Equal Parenting Laws, is that the fighting and turmoil between divorcing Mothers and Fathers has decreased dramatically!

    Thank you VERY MUCH for listening!!

    Keith Jones
    Nocona, Texas”

  • I’m a woman, a mother, a co-parent and a wife to a man who co-parents with another woman. The family court system is designed to benefit exactly that the court system, the judges, the hearing officers, the ATTORNEYS, the court clinicians and everyone else in between. If this law passes it stands to significantly decrease funding to all parties whether it’s extorted from the government via title 4D or the non-custodial parent via interest for the state collected from the child support and the thousands of dollars one has to shell out for an attorney. The only ones not benefiting are the children and the non-custodial parent. I vote shared parenting for the best interest of the children and their parents. If there is no just cause the parents should absolutely have 50% of the time with the child that’s 50% theirs. You are a biased opinion. Stop raping these children and their fathers and let’s learn how to share these children we created equally.

  • This is one of the best articles I’ve read about the harmful effects of 50/50 custody on children. This IS a law in Missouri. My ex husband, a very busy attorney who rarely spent time with our kids, took a new job and moved 2.5 hours away during our divorce process. He was still allowed 50/50 custody of our 1 and 3 year old children. The GAL said either parent automatically gets up to 50% of parenting time if they want it, regardless of the childrens’ age or who was the primary caregiver during the marriage. When Ex heard this, he insisted on exactly 50/50.

    He was abusive and diagnosed with a personality disorder. But since he only abused me and not our kids, the GAL said some men are crappy husbands, but great dads. I was forced to go to coparenting counseling with my abuser to try to improve coparenting. He threatened and harassed me with no consequence. I felt like I was in a horror movie.

    His mom took care of our kids after daycare on his custody days, as he was very busy. 2 weeks post divorce, he met a new woman whom he married a few months later. He then started filing for sole custody, saying the kids need a home with a mom and dad. He says my 2-br home isn’t adequate enough and that the kids “deserve better.” He told everyone that the judge gave him 50/50 because I’m a terrible mom. Most people believed him because people expect moms to have small children most of the time after a divorce. 50/50 was a foreign concept.

    And of course, although he makes 3x my salary, he filed to lower child support. His claim: that if he has 50/50 custody, neither parent should receive child support. Just provide based on what you earn yourself. My career sacrifices so he could advance his own are irrelevant. His take: if moms need more money they should use the 50% time they don’t have the kids to get a better or second job. And, that he didn’t “force” me to sacrifice my career to have kids.

    My kids: they’re a few years older now and suffer extreme attachment issues. There’s anxiety, fear, stress, and fear that they will lose me. So they’re very clingy, nervous, and confused. And they hate the back and forth schedule and the long commute from their dad’s to school. They’re always dead tired, starving, and moody when they come home. There’s 24 hours of gremlin-like, explosive behavior. I hear the same complaint from other 50/50 moms.

    I moved to a very good school district, used the “free time” to earn a masters degree from a top university, and am working towards a better paying job. I also focus 100% of my parenting time on my kids, so no dating. As a result, my kids appear stable and are doing very well in school. Ex’s abuse towards me is ongoing, and he files continuous motions. But the court ignores the abuse since the kids appear to be doing okay. They’re only okay because they have one healthy parent, me. The negative effects of 50/50 are masked because you can’t “see” psychological damage.

    I wish I didn’t need child support, but I do. I pay for all of the kids’ camps, school expenses, activities, and I even cover them on my health insurance. If Ex paid these items, I wouldn’t need child support! But it’s not about the kids, it’s about Fathers Rights. Ex wants me to suffer financially. Real kids are suffering. We won’t see the true impact of 50/50 for years to come. There will be long-term consequences for this short-term gain.

      • For every story like this…I can provide you one on the opposite side where a mother is the one driving a stake between the children and their father…and using child support as a get rich quick plan. No system is perfect, but we would need such a specific law if judges were truly considering the children’s best interests and allowing them to see good parents equally. Worst of all are the lawyers who advertise to their female clients how much they will “make” if they don’t agree to 50/50 custody and the ones who walk around the courthouse stating things like “thank god he has 3 kids, we are going to destroy him” (exact words I heard spoken a lawyer in halls of Dupage county courthouse). While I sympathize with you on your situation, I think you need to understand that in today’s divorce, your situation is not the norm any more…the reason the law has so much traction is because the situation I describe is the bigger problem today.

  • Whatever happened to looking at each case individually? Making a ruling, on something so importand as a chilfs custody, after learning all the facts? It seems so surreal to me that there are presumptions AT ALL when it comes to family matters. It breaks my heart that our family courts seems to be going backwards with family moral values. Its astounding that courts go with TRENDS.
    How unfortunate for families who try for a more traditional model, with one parent earning and one parent raising the kids. That’s much harder than both parents working every day and sharing child making decisions with daycares. Because when THOSE families don’t work out the courts make it impossible to maintain any of the original values that family were modeling.
    Instead of making presumptive decisions, instead of a father’s movement, I’d like to see prenuptial agreements become mandatory. I realize most soon to be married folks think it’s a jinx to consider such things. But as much as you want to MARRY that person, believe me when I say you’d want to divorce that same person even more- should it come to that. Every couple who end up getting divorced can agree that at least one person isn’t who the person they married…hence the divorce. That’s why prenuptial agreements should be done. Of course, that’ll never happen because then there would be no way for lawyers judges and courts to make money of a families demise.
    It’s just so easy and so acceptable to be selfish and self serving in this country. Sad sad sad.

  • The inherent problem with any discussion of parental rights and time is the “best interests of the child” standard. This standard is ambiguous and subject to great variation from state to state, district to district and even judge to judge. This potential huge variation puts courts in a very untenable position in trying to determine this standard that can have such an impact on families. If it is argued courts are too busy to render written opinions on such a monumental issue, how can the courts be relied upon to make a determination of such a poorly defined standard?

    As stated previously, an equal parenting time discussion is about the children. The standard should be that every child should have the expectation of having two parents that are equally responsible for raising and providing for the child. Expecting parents to equally provide and then not expecting both parents to have equal decision making and time, is patently unfair.

    I live in Colorado and in the last few years, the legislature passed a bill that largely standardized the calculation of spousal and child support. This first move took much of the fight over money out of a divorce. The next step was to pass a bill that provided for the assumption of 50/50 parenting time. A bill was introduced in 2015 and passed the State Senate unanimously. Once it reached the State House three primary groups provided fierce opposition, women’s violence advocacy groups, mental health therapy providers and “family” lawyers. I am meeting with my newly elected state rep to re-introduce this bill. I expect the same three groups will voice their opposition in an attempt to guard their various interests and protect the status quo. Thankfully the courts in Colorado already have an unwritten rule that starts with 50/50 and that has not resulted in Armageddon as predicted by the opposition groups. However, by codifying the equal presumption I believe it will give children the best chance of requiring parents to work together and provide for the children. Regrettably, “family” lawyers and the various cottage industry of mental health therapists engaged to define an ambiguous standard will have to find another source of revenue and another bogey man to chase.

  • MS Covy, your comments in the article, are comical. By going to a 50/50 presumption would be removing power of the courts, this can be argued several different ways, but GOOD. The issues right now, in all so many states, there is an unwritten blueprint that the courts use right NOW, and that is any custody matter shall enter a default ruling of child shall almost automatically go to mommy in an 80/20 split. This is right now 2018 and in 2019.
    Other than going to a 50/50 presumption, I’m not hearing much input about ways of getting away from the default 80/20 split and making a fair and/or equal family law system.

    If you really have suggestion please state it, or even restate for me.

    Continue with the current system? Continue to disenfranchise fathers? Continue to show that family structure is about mommies?

    Devise a plan that is, based fair and equally, or near fair and equal please??

    Those opposed to 50/50, seem to never have any suggestions about actually changing the current system.

  • Just as I said, “Those opposed to 50/50, seem to never have any suggestions about actually changing the current system.”

    No input to change?

    So we conitue with the blue printed unofficial system of 80/20 which is very Ridgided and very automatic, because going to 50/50 is too ridgided, and too fair.

    Thank for your response and input on this matter.

  • I find it interesting that the ones opposing equal shared parenting are the ones who will profit directly from the ongoing system which encourages conflict and “one winner, one loser” approach after divorce/separation. Your argument manipulates what the research states, what other countries who have adopted equal shared parenting have found. It also feeds off people’s fears that abusers will get custody of kids or use it as control over their victims. Anyone who is aware, knows that there are already laws in place to protect victims against abusers and it does not change the facts of each individual case. The judge will still have discretion in those cases. All the proposals are designed to do is to grant equal shared parenting to mothers and fathers who are fit, loving and able parents. Anyone who would suggest that a presumption of 50/50 in this regard, is not best for children when the overwhelming majority of credible research indicates it is, likely has an ulterior motive for their position. I would suggest that yours is financial, as being a divorce attorney, your bread and butter comes from the ongoing chaos in our current family court system. Your strategic mention of The Fathers Rights Movement (FRM) in your writing seems designed to, again, put fear into some of your readers. The FRM is made up of women and men who are seeking equal shared parenting for the child’s best interests, support by vast research. The FRM is also not alone in this endeavor. There are many, many organizations who support this cause along with large numbers of women and men. Again, I would advise any reader to look at the sources of the opposition and the motivating factors behind such opposition.

  • Your article starts off great, but as soon as you start bashing a 50-50 arrangement, it reads like an angry feminist that it 100% against men. Family Court is the only court system in this country where a MAN is guilty until proven innocent. And one of your statements about how 50-50 hurts children is that it effects child support. Oh well! Fathers are NOT ATM’s to pay the ridiculous amounts of CS that is always ordered.

    Men have rights too. It’s about time women realize that

  • The idea that shared parenting makes it less likely that an abuser will leave just doesn’t match with reality. Keep in mind that women are equally likely to abuse as men. In a man’s case, there are no shelters, no social support groups, and no credibility when filing a domestic violence report. A man is likely to lose his children if he leaves, and if he takes the children when he leaves, the state will surely issue an amber alert. This proposed change would allow men to finally escape the horrors of abuse that they have endured for so long.

    Additionally, the change from “preponderance” to “clear and convincing” would be a GREAT thing and would PROTECT children from abusers. First of all, clear and convincing does make it more difficult to remove a parent from a child’s life, but that’s the point. Losing a parent is one of the most stressful, traumatic, and damaging events a child can ever experience. If we’re going to do that, we’d better be damned sure that it’s the right move. Secondly, under the current preponderance standard, a mere allegation of abuse is enough to keep the other parent away, and ABUSERS know this and utilize it all the time. It’s a well-known silver bullet in the court system. The CURRENT law actually keeps more children with their abuser rather than the proposed change would.

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt as far as your motives for opposing this bill. I URGE you to do further research and return to this discussion with a better-formed opinion.

  • Every argument Karen is making is very invalid. Unless you are a father in the situation you have no idea what it is like dealing with court systems in this country, which are honestly a joke. I have 50/50 custody of my son and pay zero child support and there is no problem with this. Child support is not about supporting the mother of your child it’s about supporting the child and 99% of this time this is by no means the case. I am in Kentucky but I gained my custody before this law ever passed. As long as the father can do his part and show proof that he can provide just as much as the mother, if not more, then how would this not be a good idea? Women always want equal rights so why shouldn’t a man be given the same treatment? Very hypocritical in so many aspects of the word. The bias and favoritism in this article is down right ridiculous to be honest. If this is a bad idea then why should it automatically be in favor of a mother when it comes to child custody? Lawyer, judges, court system in this country definitely need to be reevaluated.

  • Author, you misrepresent these laws. You even misquoted the law in Ky. Shame on you! DV is considered when determining custody and supersedes 50/50 presumption. Address the silver bullet and SSQ title 4d then you find what is driving the custody battles. Your pocket book.

  • Thanks for sharing your opinions.
    Or thanks for saying nothing, other than, “Thanks for sharing your opinions.”

    50/50 BAD…
    We should except a legal system that says moms are best for children and dad’s are pay checks for children.

    And its crappy people like this that continue careers in the legal industries and they end up becoming judge, they make rulings on cases in this 1 opionated manner, and they make sure to share there bias opinions to everyone and they force every case to hear their crappy bias options.

    —MS. Covy. I hope that one day you wake up and realize how many children are being hurt by our current family court legal system.

    —I hope you realize your part of the very problems and issues.

    There’s a C-word in my dictionary that I’ll reserve for you and it starts with a C– and ends with a T. Being that you have had such a long and amazing career in the legal world, the biggest issues with every case is conflict, and you personally don’t express any ideas about minizing conflict in the family court arena and instead your suggestions are that we continue the high conflict, winner takes all family court system, you as a proffessional in the industry, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    And I hope that you never take the time to write another crapy-piece of literature, like this again.

    And your response shall be:
    Thanks for sharing your opinions

      • 50/50 parenting time is in the best interest of the child. You might be a fantastic attorney, but you’re not a psychologist. Read this study, backed by over 100 psychologists which was published in the America Psychological Associate Journal:
        “policymakers and decision makers should recognize that depriving young children of overnights with their fathers could compromise the quality of developing father-child relationships. Sufficient evidence does not exist to support postponing the introduction of regular and frequent involvement, including overnights, of both parents with their babies and toddlers.”

        I find it saddening that attorneys and judges, who make these crucial decisions for children, are so uninformed about sound psychology. In a world of the Internet, it’s inexcusable. The information is clear if your eyes are open to read.

  • Thank you for sharing facts about this law. I find it very scary they are even considering this law. Every situation is different and I feel this law will give rights to unfit parents ( both Father’s and Mother’s). Child custody should always be about what is in the child’s best interest not about the parent’s rights. This law will make it so much harder for Judges to protect children. Everyone who is going on and on about child support should be ashamed of themselves. Money is the least important part of this whole thing. I don’t know what the parameters of this law would be, but I don’t know how they would enforce this. Many parents do not live in the same school district, so should children be forced to attend different schools based off which parents house they are at? That seems ridiculous and impossible. What about cases where one parent is violent, abusive and using drugs? What about cases where the child doesn’t feel safe or loved in one home, but is completely happy and secure in the other parents home? If any law is passed regarding custody it should be a law giving the children more of a voice in the decisions that affect their lives so dearly. I hope and pray that the people who are appointed to make laws and pass them will remember that their responsibility is to serve and protect the people. Protecting the rights of these children who already have no voice should be TOP priority!

  • “Equal Parenting” means exactly what it says. Two parents share parenting rights, responsibilities, and time with their kids 50/50.

    “Research also shows that conflict hurts children.”
    REBUTTAL: The periods of highest conflict and distress in regards to divorced children and two parents, are the periods of transition. Equal 50/50 parenting allows a simple transition to happen once a week – that is 52 transitions a year.

    Compare that to the present standard often allocated to fathers of every other weekend and one night weekly of visitation.
    26 x weekend pickup
    26 x weekend drop off
    52 x mid-week visitation pickup
    52 x mid-week visitation dropoff
    TOTAL 156 transitions vs a mere 52 in an equal parenting arrangement, that is 3x the number of distressing transitions.

    1. They establish a legal presumption of 50/50 parenting time.

    “A legal presumption strips judges of discretion and requires them to “presume” that something is true. without any proof that it is true.”

    In no way is a judge stripped of their discretion. The presumption simply mandates that a) the starting point for evaluating a custody case starts from an equal position b) that if a judge decides there are grounds not to award 50/50 equally shared custody, than the judge must be able to substantiate the reasons why they feel justified to take away a child’s right to have both parents in their lives equally.

    “regardless of the facts and circumstances of their case.”

    Completely untrue. However, the facts and circumstances must be documentable and substantiated. Presently, this is not the case. If one parent is an adept liar, they can simply make claim after claim with no requirement to provide any supporting evidence to substantiate the claim. Whom the judge believes becomes the winner – regardless of truth, facts, or the safety and well-being of the child(ren). The presumption mandates that a judge can actually substantiate why they decided to believe one party over the other, what evidence led them to see a concern, and to mandate both from parents but also custody evaluators, etc. that any claims be substantiated.

    2. They change the burden of proof.

    “a preponderance of the evidence” versus “clear and convincing”

    Why this change is necessary, because in family court a “preponderance of evidence” is often just “he said” or “she said”, and the judge believes them (be it because they’re younger, more attractive, a woman, etc., etc.) and routinely clear and documentable evidence is ignored in decisions.

    However, since the burden of proof is set merely at a “preponderance of evidence” there is little ability to question a judge’s decision since the judge simply felt one individual to be more believable than the other, that can be deemed sufficient (despite that one individual favored by the judge repeatedly making false statements while the one disbelieved by the judge could of spoken honestly).

    3. They change WHAT a parent has to prove in order to deviate from strict 50/50 parenting time.

    As they should. Imagine if we went back to the old patriarchy standard of custody, prior to changes enacted as women became more empowered politically and gained the right to vote. Fathers always received custody of the child, as they were deemed his heirs.

    Currently, fathers almost automatically loses access to their children. Despite any concerns regarding the well being and safety of children in their mother’s care. Fathers who are hard working, drug alcohol free, with no criminal records still lose to mothers who are engaged in drug use and criminal activities and repeatedly investigated by CPS.

    How is that a system benefiting or protecting the well being of a child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health?

    “That is significantly different than requiring a parent to prove that having more or less parenting time is best for their kids.”

    Why should I as an amazing dad have to prove that I have a right to be in my children’s lives or that my children have a right to have their dad equally in their life. Reverse this, and you would decry the horrors of what fathers are subjected to continuously.

    4. They require written court opinions.

    The horrors, they actually require the judge to write an opinion justifiying his or her decision. I mean, parents are forced in the court system (often by one selfish parent).

    And to demand that after a father has spent $25,000 or more trying to be involved in his child(ren)’s lives, to expect a judge to actually write a few paragraphs justifying why they removed a father from a child’s life seems hardly a complaint. Oh, and without that written opinion, it can be very hard to pursue an appeal. What was said? Did a court recorder record the opinion? How do you even get a copy. Seriously, if the court cannot provide a father a written record of why it is taking him away from his children, than that court does not merit continued operation.


    5 Ways the Proposed Parenting Laws Will Hurt Kids

    1. The new laws put the parents’ “rights” above their children’s best interests.

    No, the new law recognizes that it is a child’s right and in their best interest to have access to both parents on a regular basis. And that a parent’s gender is not the determining factor.

    “What do children of divorce want? While the answer obviously differs from case to case, most kids just want to be kids.”

    Funny you should ask that, because ALL my kids want their daddy in their lives a lot lot more. All my kids want at least a return to the 50/50 equal custody we once had. And if you want the truth, most kids want both mommy and daddy. Sadly, in these cases that is NOT possible. So the next best choice (outside of any extenuating circumstances) is that the kids get parents 50% of the time. ANYTHING ELSE, unless there are extenuating circumstances of abuse, etc. is a decision made against the children’s best interests, and usually against their desires.

    2. The new laws endanger children in cases involving domestic violence, abuse, and neglect.

    No they do not, any substantiated abuse or violence still has as much merit as it ever did. However, what it does is not allow is a wife who never had any claims of such abuse prior to suddenly after a divorce has begun (often because she’s chosen to be with another man) to suddenly claim and insinuate abuse without any evidence or substantiation. No accordance from any of the children. And then under pressure to protect victims, enable the use of the courts to forcibly expel fathers from their homes, use restraining orders to prevent fathers from coming near their children – despite never having harmed their children.

    At worst, it requires some sort of evidence to be provided. A record, history, child statement or testimony. ANYTHING….any single shred of evidence, regardless of how small.

    At best, good fathers who have never abused their children or their spouses won’t have the courts utilized as a tool against them without cause. (The irony here is the presumption that fathers are the only danger to children despite many statistics that show abuse of children often is more common under mothers.)

    3. Parenting research does not support the new laws.

    “Depending on the study, “shared” parenting time can be anything from 25- 50% of time. Those studies simply don’t support the proposition that 50/50 parenting time is really best for the kids in all cases.”

    First, the reason for the lack of in depth statistics on just 50/50 parenting time is due to the fact that the systemic bias of the family courts are so strong that there just are not a lot of 50/50 parenting time schedules. The vast majority of schedules equate to mother automatically receives primary custody, father is relegated to 2 weekends a month.

    Nothing in the new laws prohibit appropriate parenting plans to be formulated. Nor do they say that accommodations cannot be enacted for newborn infants. Rather, just that a case must be made and justified.

    4. The proposed parenting laws will primarily be used by the people who are the least equipped to fight them.

    “According to most experts, at least 90% of all divorce cases settle out of court.”
    Why? Because most fathers are informed (and rightly so) that despite them being a superb and amazing father, that the mere fact they are male almost ensures that they will not be awarded even shared custody.
    Do you spend $25,000 trying to stay in your children’s lives only to have nothing to share for it a year later. And if you do not have $25,000…then what? It is very hard for working parents to engage in a custody process “pro se”.

    “The 10% or so that go to trial are the most difficult, highest conflict, cases.”
    Often, only one party is difficult and high conflict. And they are seeking to use the court system as a way to destroy their ex-spouse and take everything they can away.

    “Amicably divorcing people do not need an equal parenting law.”
    True, but there are very few amicable divorcing people. And it should be noted that BOTH need to agree to be amiacable, if only one chooses not to be, than it becomes contentious.

    A presumptive 50/50 custody law would eliminate many cases that are brought to court merely for vindictive reasons. It will prevent one spouse viewing the court system as a way to take away everything from their former spouse (children, home, earnings, etc).

    “As everyone knows, litigation is expensive. Fighting your divorce case in court can cost tens, or hundreds, of thousands of dollars. Yet, the only way to challenge the proposed equal time requirement if your spouse won’t agree to a different schedule, is by fighting in court.”

    And what do you think one must do today? No different…except presently, it is often based solely on gender.

    5. The proposed parenting laws will dramatically affect child support.

    OMG, both parents will be obligated to work and/or take care of their children. The horrors.

    “While adjusting child support based upon time spent with a child seems fair, most men still earn more than most women.”
    Most men work more hours, which is then used against them in custody court to justify taking them away from their children’s live.

    Oh, and a little insight…EVERY state has laws and calculations that are designed to balance out any imbalances in income. So even if a mother earns $25K/year and a father earns $50K/year, and are awarded 50/50 custody by presumptive default. That does NOT mean that dad has twice the $$$ to raise the kids with then mom. Rather, the equations go thru and adjust the child support to balance out the income due the children.

    What is seldom ever addressed is that if a mother chooses to not work or to work part-time in order to be with the children more, they will earn a reduced income, this then equates to the father a) losing custody due to working b) having to pay the mother more because she has chosen not to work. Yet, even when it is the father who was the stay-at-home parent and the mother the bread winner. Custody is still often given to the mother and the father suddenly obligated to get a job and begin paying child support. Yes, this is about nothing but gender.

    “Women therefore argue that if their support is reduced based upon parenting time, they won’t be able to make ends meet.”
    Funny, you used the word women. Thank you for admitting this is really all about protecting a gender biased system that just happens to benefit women. One in which a man loses everything, the children he loves, the home he helped build, huge portion of his earnings, and then is held under the threat of incarceration and jail.

    “Tying child support payments to parenting time causes many divorcing parents to put their kids in the middle of a financial tug-of-war.”

    Funny, because presently, a father can pay child support and the mother can disregard court order after court order and refuse to let the father be in his children’s lives. Yet, ironically, despite being in contempt of court, this behavior almost never garners jail time or even the threat of jail time.


    The Proposed Equal Parenting Laws Are Not the Answer
    “They will not put the children first in any situation.”

    Ironically, they will put more children first than our current system. But perhaps you should talk to my children and get some insight.

    “Right now, most laws don’t explicitly favor mothers in custody or parenting battles. But, as a practical matter, in many places there is a judicial bias in favor of keeping kids with their moms. That bias, as well-intentioned as it may be, is not helpful.”

    And I think it is ironic, that in other areas, the solution of civil rights matters has been to pass legislation that protects equal rights. Yet, here, you argue against such a protection. Meanwhile, children are left under abusive mothers, being abused, pimped out, even killed. While loving fathers don’t even have a chance at custody.

    “How much time kids spend with each parent should be for the PARENTS to decide.”
    Seriously? This is the dumbest line in your whole article. Firstly, it contradicts your whole argument above about being the child’s interests and not the parent’s interest.

    Second, if both parents want the most amount of time with their children possible, than the only fair balance is 50%/50%. You’re arguing against codifying that for the very specific situations in which the parents cannot come to an agreement (because of either one or both parents).

    Why should it not be for the children to decide? The children get the least say. Were my children listened to, at the very least they would of have had 50/50 custody, if they had to choose one parent, it would of been daddy.

    “The judge’s decision should be based on the best research, as well as the individual characteristics of each family. It should be based on gender neutral laws applied evenhandedly to all.”


    “How can we really do what’s best for these kids?”

    If you don’t think I have asked that question a bajillion times. You really do not understand this issue at all.