By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
Society needs to be educated on the necessity of shared parenting and the innumerable benefits it affords to children.
If not, children will continue to be denied the foundation of an equal relationship with both of their parents.
There are longstanding attitudes about shared parenting that have influenced the public and the present family law system. Most of these attitudes are fiction and need to be debunked.
Fiction: Most children are satisfied with the amount of time that they are allowed to spend with their fathers after their parents divorced.
Fact: Most children say that they would like more time with their dads. The main reason that a child doesn’t want to spend more time with his dad is because he feels like an interloper in his father’s new life.
If he saw his father more often, the child would feel more included as a part of the family, instead of feeling like a “white elephant” of a previous marriage who drops in every other weekend.
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Fiction: Children don’t want to live part-time in both parents’ homes, going back and forth.
Fact: As long as a parent portrays shared parenting – and the going back and forth — as “normal,” it feels normal to a child.
It is similar to the mother who has a career. If she says to her children, “Okay, now we go to daycare,” daycare will seem like a normal part of their lives.
If she says, “I’m sorry that I have to spend so much time away from you,” the children will feel resentful. Shared parenting follows the same line of reasoning.
Fiction: Divorced dads who share parenting pay less child support and the children are worse off financially.
Fact: Dads who share parenting also share the economic burden of raising their children. Child support is equalized according to the amount of parenting time a child spends with each parent.
The divorced spouses who make shared parenting work, collaborate on providing for their child’s physical needs, such as school clothes, medical insurance, dental care, and uniforms for band, cheerleading and sports.
When both parents are integrally involved in the life of their child, they are far more likely to include financial responsibility in their commitment to their child’s wellbeing.
Fiction: Most divorced dads don’t want to spend more time with their children.
Fact: When a man gets divorced, he is usually relegated to the role of a part-time visitor in the lives of his children. What man would want that? The truth is that most divorced men would like to share in their children’s parenting and spend as much time with their children as possible.
Dr. Linda Nielsen, Professor of Women’s Studies at Wake Forest University, says the following on the realities of today’s custody arrangements:
“Almost half of the children in the U.S. are deprived of the lifelong benefits of two parents who share the parenting throughout the first 18 years of their children’s lives… Only 15% – 20% of parents share parenting after divorce. Existing legal procedures & attitudes of people who influence the decisions about children’s living arrangements often make shared parenting harder to achieve.”
According to the Stepfamily Association, 23.3% of children live solely with their biological mothers, yet only 4.4% only live with their biological fathers. These statistics alone illustrate the inequality of today’s child custody orders.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.
3 comments on “Shared Parenting Divorce: Fact or Fiction”
My ex-wife and I have been to court 3 times in 4 years over custody and parenting time. The last trip was prompted when I saw our daughter being unkempt. I felt if I could pay child support, then my ex-wife should be able to make sure our daughter was clean, and had clothes and shoes in good condition to wear. I asked her mom whether she could come live with me part-time, but her mom said no. I filed for custody.
In our county, these cases are sent to mediation. I showed the mediator the pictures of my ex-wife’s cluttered and unkempt home, and of our daughter’s dirty, worn sneakers. I showed pictures of my house, which is kept clean and organized. In my house, our daughter has her own room, but not so at her mother’s. The mediator met with my ex-wife separately. My ex-wife refused to budge. I hired an attorney from Cordell & Cordell.
On court day, we were sent back to mediation. The mediator was one that had worked one of our previous agreements. After much negotiation, we agreed that joint physical custody and shared parenting was the way to go. Yes, there was a reduction in the amount of child support I pay, but it’s not about that. It’s about being able to spend more time with our daughter and to have more influence in her life.
The arrangement works. Our daughter is mostly clean (she’s a tomboy so you only can expect so much) and neat. She has adapted to the situation. Her mom and I try to work together for our daughter’s sake. Shared parenting should be where judges and mediators start from – not the every other weekend visitation. Both mom & dad brought the child into this world, therefore they should both care for the child whether they live together or not.
true from experience
My greatest divorce battle was and continues to be defending my parenting rights and my parenting role. Not from the children’s mother, but from court precedent. In my jurisdiction it is county precedent that father’s automatically become non-primary or non-custodial parent without some very compelling reason reasons to maintain any equal footing as parent. The law isn’t written this way, but is the precedential decisions of judges who lazily adopt the precedent. It is argued here that lengthy divorce litigation is damaging to the children and the parents, which is true. But making a lazy decision based on precedent just pushes the conflicts over into the private lives of the divorce family, leading to many long-term life-term conflicts that could be sorted out in court.
It is argued that the mother is the better single parent, but the studies behind this idea provide no concrete proof. In fact, children of single parents (mother or father) are at much higher risk of emotional problems that children who share residence and have both parents equally active in their lives.
We have a culture that dumps on absentee fathers who avoid marriage and avoid parenting, while at the same time we have divorce precedents forcing fathers who want to be involved into secondary roles. We then point the finger of blame for parenting problems at the father after we’ve taken away most of his legal rights and responsibilities to be a parent, simply because of his gender during the divorce process.
it is true
It is time the justice system realize that men too are parents and part of family and a part of that child. Contact with his child will also make him a better person and make a child feel safe to have a father around a child weather. Father or mother, A parent is important to a child and now a days fathers spent a lot of time with their children and children look forward to have their fathers at all their school events. Having a father in society to a child is important, even better having both parents as a family is important. But the law destroys it so easily and always blame the father and the police have a big hand in it cause they are educated to do so and mostly act on their ignorance as they are not educated or qualified to handle family issues. Todays custody laws destroy the relation between father and child.