March 14

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

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


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.

Why?

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.

Need help making a workable parenting schedule? Get your FREE DOWNLOADABLE CHART of the most popular co-parenting schedules now.

  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.

_____

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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?”

__________

Are You a Divorcing Parent?

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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.)

      Karen

      • 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.

          Karen

      • 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.
        Peter

      • 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 them..you 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.
      #supportsharedparenting

      • 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!

      Karen

  • 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.