JOINT CUSTODY DOES NOT WORK
(or maybe the road to hell isn't paved with such good intentions.)
The URL for this webpage is http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/joint-custody-does-not-work.htmlparallel parenting shared custody parenting plans
RESEARCH CITES HERE bauserman 5/5/3/3 shared parental responsibility joint custody research
Joint Custody Just Does Not Work. Research from the California Judicial Council, 2000. Look at the findings; ignore the "spin." This study was done ostensibly to look at the results of mediated "parenting plans."
Look what happened to joint custody. As a lifestyle, it just does not work. Its only arguable accomplishment probably is to ultimately send more children into the sole custody of their fathers than otherwise would occur. (A primary reason fathers' rights groups push for it.)
However, it's unlikely that any group, children, mothers, or fathers, benefits from this phenomenon -- other than, of course, custody mediators, evaluators, and parenting coordinators, who make more money the more problematic and unworkable a "parenting plan" is. See "The Agenda Behind the Rhetoric." Most fathers who weren't the primary parents during their marriages eventually (if not immediately) palm off the primary parenting onto stepmothers and others. And in the long run, while it saves on paying child support (a psychic reward for the bread-winning father), it rarely costs less to have custody of a child than to pay child support. Mothers who initially were stay-home parents or merely their children's primary caregivers, and/or the dependent spouse, suffer long-term detriment, both economic and emotional. Most of all, the children themselves, who most likely did not need this in order to have a "relationship" with their fathers, just don't do well from repeated changes in household/family composition, and from the lack of stability.
Below, a graph from the California Judicial Council study. Does joint custody work well? Do families like it? Is it stable?
The above graph shows what happened to 1032 children's custody over a five-year period in California. Joint custody diminished for all age groups, and nearly disappeared as children entered their teens (and expressed some opinions?). But also look at what happened over the same period of time to father sole custody. Fathers used joint custody as a means of taking children away from their mothers.
While more of the older children who left joint custody went to live with their mothers, a significant lesser portion did go with their fathers. And look at the fathers' glom of custody of the younger children. According to the study (which really wasn't about "this" issue), joint custody also caused a higher number of subsequent household changes and instability for many of the children placed into it. Joint custody theory however, even when very young children commenced in sole mother custody, arguably resulted in far more children ending up in the sole custody of their fathers than would reasonably be expected -- or reasonably would approximate that parent's share of the childcare and homemaking in "intact" two-parent homes. It is used as a stepping stone where the real agenda is to position the father to remove custody of children from the mother down the road (often he cannot do that at the time of divorce because he has not established himself as an equivalent parent. Of course, at that later date, if he's remarried, he gets credited with the stepmothers' caregiving.)
So much for the specious pablum by the "bi-nuclear" rhetoric set about "sharing" and "co-parenting." (In 2005 there was a far higher percentage of initial joint custody awards than in 1991. Note to noncustodial mothers who in desperation now support joint custody: you're supporting the most likely reason that today you are a noncustodial parent.)
Interesting how as the anti-divorce set decries its perceptions of increasing problems among children of divorce, it usually attributes the problem to the myth that divorce rates are "increasing" -- they aren't, and haven't for more than a generation now, so this hypothesis fails utterly. Reality check: regardless of whether or not divorce is bad for children (and I think it is, in the abstract), if problems are increasing among children of divorce, that simply cannot be from any correlation with divorce rates. It may well be because both the anti-divorce and normalize divorce proponents ignorantly or deliberately equate "children's divorce-related problems" with "father absence." All the focus is on this hopeful and completely unproved factor as a necessity for child well-being. All the focus is on the most absurd minutiae that in the main means little. There is not even a suggestion that if, as a demographic group, children of divorce are having more problems -- assuming they are -- it's more likely to be because of the rise in popularity of the ridiculous, schizophrenic, and unstable co-parenting ideology, which in turn is increasing the absence of mothers from their children's lives, as well as increasing stressful, wasteful, and expensive years of "burgeoning custody litigation," including the endless talkety talk-talk meddling with families by those who make their money doing "therapeutic jurisprudence."
More commentary from Australia:
Below, the reality of joint custody is not "sharing" and it's not "two homes." It's "no home."
The following factors are the only ones that consistently have been related to positive child adjustment post divorce and are consistent with the findings of all relevant research:
1. Positive "custodial parent" adjustment (i.e. maternal adjustment -- most "custodial parents" in the research were not androgynous parent units but mothers), which is associated with effective parenting;
2. A positive relationship between the "custodial parent" (i.e. mother) and child; and
3. A low level of conflict between parents (more likely when post-divorce parenting arrangements mirror the patterns set in the family prior to the divorce.)
See Marion Gindes, The Psychological Effects of Relocation for Children of Divorce, AAML Journal, Vol. 15 (1998), pp. 144-145
The following factors are the only ones that consistently have been related to positive effects of father involvement, and are consistent with the findings of all relevant research:
1. How the child perceives the father to feel about the child (which is not related to how much time he spends with the child, and not necessarily related to how the child feels about him, a factor that is comparatively insignificant vis a vis the child's well-being); and
2. A father who emotionally cares for, financially supports, respects, is involved with, takes some of the work load off of, and generally makes life easier, happier and less stressful for... his children's mother.
(Anyone tells you anything different, get out the shovel and hip boots. -- liz)
...with the replacement of the tender-years presumption with the best-interests-of-the-child presumption (and the gender egalitarianism incorporated therein), we witnessed a burgeoning of child custody litigation...burgeoning of custody litigation. Whereas previously the courts tended to award one parent sole custody and assigned the other parent visitation status, now litigating parents could each hope for a large share of time with the children. In association with what can justifiably be called a custody litigation explosion (which is still going on), I began to see a disorder, which I rarely saw before, that developed almost exclusively in children who were exposed to and embroiled in custody disputes...
(Why haven't we heard the "parental alienation" folks advocating to just get rid of the underlying disease-causing toxins -- the misguided and harmful notion of joint custody, and the denigration of mothers' parenting? [Read more about "parental alienation syndrome"])
(Because it makes lots and lots of money for those in the psych industry who earn their livings as parenting plan mediators, parenting coordinators, GALS, custody evaluators, court-ordered therapists, reunification therapists, PAS deprogrammers, children's therapists, conjoint therapists, co-parenting therapists, and long-term therapists for miserable people.) BACK TO TEXT
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