Examine Finds That Equal Custody Preparations Narrows The Gender Pay Hole
A study shows that single mothers with equally shared custody agreements make more money than … [+]
Back in September 2020, when a new school year without school broke the backs of mothers across the country, Lyz Lenz wrote an essay for glamor that quickly went viral: It took a divorce to make my marriage the same. But, as some feminists pointed out at the time, divorce is not enough for too many women either. In fact, it can often exacerbate existing inequalities.
The assumption that mom is the caregiver first (even if she also earns money) and dad is the breadwinner first (even if he also provides care) still permeates all facets of our society and culture. And this also includes the family court, where too often the mother is made the primary custody parent and the father receives a “visit”. This can be done without anyone – including the couple involved – questioning it.
This arrangement may not be optimal for everyone involved – mom has a harder time making the money she needs to keep herself and her children afloat, dad has a harder time maintaining a real connection with his kids, and the kids lose the benefit of two loving and committed parents. Of course, there are situations when joint custody isn’t a good idea – and in fact, some abusive parents use custody as a vehicle to seek revenge and worse. But in divorces where abuse is not a factor, parental equality agreements can actually ease tension and lead to better co-parenting.
Unequal custody is often the result of women and their lawyers assuming that mothers get more child support when they have more responsibility for their parents, but it doesn’t always work that way. In fact, only 34% of single mothers receive child support and the average amount ordered is $ 480 per month, with the average amount being just $ 287 per month. (I have two kids and I’m here to tell you that a week of groceries wouldn’t be covered, let alone the many other things kids need.) And the irony is that spending less time with kids does it May Fathers Loosen Up This makes them less likely to provide financial assistance.
According to a recent study by Emma Johnson of Wealthy Single Mommy, women generally do worse financially because of unequal parenting agreements. In a survey of more than 2,200 single mothers, she found that those who shared 50% parental leave with their children’s father were 54% more likely to earn $ 100,000 or more than those who had custody agreements only “Visits” with the father included. And these equally divided mothers are 325% more likely to make $ 100,000 than single mothers who have 100% children.
Despite the many benefits for everyone, only 13% of women surveyed say they have a 50/50 agreement. In fact, more than half – 51% – of respondents said they had 100% of their children, meaning they had little to no support. So much for an equal marriage. And while some mothers may not want to share custody (22% cite child safety and wellbeing as a concern), 48% of children would prefer joint custody with their children most of the time. There is clearly a gap between mothers who want parenting to be a shared responsibility and the legal and cultural barriers to achieving this.
Despite the benefits of joint custody, there are only two states that have legislation regarding equally divided parents. In 2013, Arizona passed law that allowed “maximum time with either parent,” which often results in equal custody. It wasn’t until 2017 that Kentucky became the first state to pass an equal parenting law – one that requires all divorces to be equally shared parenting unless one parent specifically objects. Ms. Johnson estimates that about 15 states are considering equal parenting accounts, including Georgia, South Dakota, Iowa, and Texas.
Of course, common parenting laws alone won’t improve life. And it’s worth noting that some domestic violence organizations are against this type of legislation. The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence cites a decline in domestic violence claims in Kentucky as evidence that these kinds of laws can make it difficult for people to leave abusive relationships. (A similar group in Kentucky praised the law for reducing claims of violence.)
In addition to concerns about the safety and wellbeing of parents and children, there are also issues of equity, particularly those related to finances. Many women make career sacrifices in becoming mothers that need to be considered in divorce settlements. It is pretty easy to equate mothers and fathers, but it doesn’t make it that way.
But the basic requirement that a father should be equally responsible for looking after his children should not be controversial in 2021. If public policy can normalize the notion that a divorced father should care for his children half the time, it may reinforce the idea that all fathers should be half of the parenting, which would benefit many families.