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April 18, 2012

Child Support/Custody Facts & Figures

In a prior post, the Blog Princess addressed what she called The Myth of Easy Divorce:

A frequent tactic of the simple/single cause supporter is to truncate long term historical trends, notably beginning with an unrepresentative period for marriages and divorces in the US: the 1950s. I'm not sure whether this is deliberate or simply lazy but there's no denying that the practice conveniently airbrushes away over a century of steadily and rapidly rising divorce rates.

The myth of easy divorce is usually accompanied by another popular myth: that alimony and child support create powerful incentives for women to leave their marriages. Once again, the facts don't bear this theory out. Over time, the proportion of divorces in which the woman initiated divorce proceedings has been remarkably stable - it varies between 60-70 percent.

As a follow on to our discussion of custody and child support awards, this post will address some common perceptions about these issues and hopefully throw a few facts and studies onto the table. Caveat: I have spent a lot of time reading studies. I don't do this for a living, but I've done my best to evaluate the studies I've selected. I am open to looking at other studies, but that will happen subject to the time I have available. First, let's address some common perceptions:

Perception: the courts are biased against fathers, who almost never get custody.

Fact: Though it is true that women are far more likely to be awarded custody, they are also far more likely to ask for it in the first place. To establish bias, one must show (at the very minimum) that equally qualified fathers who request custody are denied more than half of the time, and here the data prove inconvenient. Courts can't be expected to award what they're not asked to. It turns out that fathers who ask for custody (and don't give up) are very likely to get either sole or joint custody:

From a state of Massachusetts study of custody awards at the state and national level come these studies of cases where fathers requested custody:

Study 1: MASS
2100 cases where fathers sought custody (100%)
5 year duration

29% of fathers got primary custody
65% of fathers got joint custody

7% of mothers got primary custody

Study 2: MASS
700 cases. In 57, (8.14%) father sought custody
6 years

67% of fathers got primary custody
23% of mothers got primary custody

Study 3: MASS
500 cases. In 8% of these cases, father sought custody
6 years

41% of fathers got sole custody
38% of fathers got joint custody

15% of mothers got sole custody

Study 4: Los Angeles
63% of fathers who sought sole custody were successful

Study 5: US appellate custody cases
51% of fathers who sought custody were successful (not clear from wording whether this includes just sole or sole/joint custody)

The study concluded:

The high success rate of fathers does not by itself establish gender bias against women. Additional evidence, however, indicates that women may be less able to afford the lawyers and experts needed in contested custody cases (see “Family Law Overview”) and that, in contested cases, different and stricter standards are applied to mothers.

More on fathers and custody:

Through most of Anglo-American legal history, there was little custody litigation because there was nothing to fight over. Dad always got the kids. Under English and early American common law, children were regarded as paternal property.

In the mid-1800s, the Industrial Revolution swept fathers out of jobs at or near home and into factories and businesses, prompting the courts to reverse course on custody. Under the “tender years” doctrine, eventually adopted in every state, the mother was presumed to be the proper custodian, especially for young children.

In the 1970s, this doctrine was replaced by the ostensibly gender-neutral “best interest of the child” standard. Today, only five states—Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee—have some form of maternal preference in custody statutes or case law, says Jeffrey Atkinson, author of Modern Child Custody Practice, 2d ed., and professor at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on maternal preferences, Atkinson believes these holdout states are on shaky constitutional ground. “A presumption that women are inherently better able to care for children than men is not a legitimate, accurate method for determining custody,” he says.

Old stereotypes die hard, though, and fathers’ rights advocates say neutral statutory language has done little to change the courts’ pro-mother leanings. Moms are granted custody in 85 percent of all cases, notes Dianna Thompson, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Coalition for Fathers and Children. She says the expense of litigation and likelihood of losing discourages many dads from even fighting for custody.

However, statistics on custody awards can be deceiving, since most custody orders are uncontested or negotiated by the parties. A 1992 study of California cases showed that fathers were awarded primary or joint custody in about half of contested custody matters.

Some lawyers believe the gender gap in custody awards reflects a preference for the status quo, rather than bias against fathers. “Family law is a case-by-case, judge-by-judge affair,” says Joel Bigatel, a family lawyer in Narberth, Pa. “If there’s a bias in awarding custody, it’s in favor of primary caretakers. If dad is the working parent, and mom is the stay-at-home, she generally has a leg up.”

Working fathers have the best shot at being named primary caretakers if they have flexible schedules, or if the mother is also working and the children are already in day care or school, says Bigatel.

*******************

Perception: Child support laws are biased against men.

Fact: Higher earning spouses (usually men) pay more but the standard itself is gender neutral.
33 states use the gender neutral income shares standard. For example, wife makes 40% of total income, husband makes 60% of total income, CS is 18% of the total or 18000 for a total income of 100K. Wife's share would be .4(18,000), husband's share would be .6(18,000). If either parent's income goes up, so does their share of child maintenance costs.

17 states apply a fixed percentage to the non-custodial parent's income. Using the preceding example, noncustodial Mom's share would be .4(18,000) or noncustodial Dad's share would be .6(18,000). If custodial parent's income goes up, that does not affect noncustodial parent's duty to pay, since it is based upon his/her income alone.

******************

Perception: Fathers don't spend as much time with children as mothers do.

Fact/Study: True, but changing:

Between 1965 and 2000, men more than doubled the time they spent playing with and teaching their children, from 2.5 to 6.5 hours a week, according to a 2007 study by the Russell Sage Foundation, a New York-based social-science research organization. Mothers spent almost double that amount engaging in such activities, or 12.9 hours a week, in 2000.

******************

Perception: Women often allege abuse falsely to gain unfair advantage over men.

Fact: Not substantiated: (note: this document addresses many common misperceptions)

This matter was investigated by the Denver-based Research Unit of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts which performed a 2-year study which explored the incidence and validity of sexual abuse allegations in custody cases. Contrary to the popular myth that sexual allegations in custody cases are relatively common, the study found that, in the 12 states participating in the study, only 6% of custody cases involved allegations of sexual abuse. The belief that these allegations are typically false was also challenged by the study findings. Half of the allegations were believed by the investigators to be true, and in another 17% determination of the validity could not be made with any degree of certainty. The remaining third of the cases were not believed to involve abuse. However, in most of the cases where abuse was not substantiated, the allegations were believed to have been made in good faith and based on genuine suspicions.

Similar results have been found by other researchers. An Australian study (Brown et al., 1997) found the overall rate of false allegations during divorce to be about 9%, similar to the rate of false allegations at any other time. Schuman (2000) reviewed research that found a range of 1-5% for rates of deliberately false allegations, and 14-21% for mistaken allegations.

It is also important to note that when false allegations are raised, it is not always mothers accusing fathers. Nicholas Bala and John Schuman, two Queen's University law professors, reviewed Canadian judges' written decisions where allegations of either physical or sexual abuse were raised in the context of parental separation. They examined 196 family law cases that were adjudicated between 1990 and 1998. The results revealed that the judges felt that only a third of unproven cases of child abuse stemming from custody battles involved someone deliberately lying in court. In these cases, the judges found that fathers were more likely to fabricate the accusations than mothers. Of female-initiated allegations, just 1.3% were deemed intentionally false by civil courts, compared with 21% when the man in the failed relationship brought similar allegations.

Perception: It's common for ex-wives to get alimony.

Study (note, since there are no stats cited here, I'm not referring to it as a "fact"):

In the area of alimony, the Committee found that very few women receive alimony awards, while even fewer women receive awards that are adequate. While many alimony awards undervalue the contributions of the homemaker to the family, they also overvalue the earning potential of homemakers who have long been out of the labor market. Further, only a minority of the alimony awards ordered ever get collected. This has a grave impact on those most dependent on alimony, particularly older homemakers who no longer receive child support and who have decreased earning potential because of years spent on childrearing. These women must rely on their own resources to bring contempt action in cases of nonpayment, and they receive little help from the courts.

We began our investigation of child custody aware of a common perception that there is a bias in favor of women in these decisions. Our research contradicted this perception. Although mothers more frequently get primary physical custody of children following divorce, this practice does not reflect bias but rather the agreement of the parties and the fact that, in most families, mothers have been the primary [*748] caretakers of children. Fathers who actively seek custody obtain either primary or joint physical custody over 70% of the time. Reports indicate, however, that in some cases perceptions of gender bias may discourage fathers from seeking custody and stereotypes about fathers may sometimes affect case outcomes. In general, our evidence suggests that the courts hold higher standards for mothers than fathers in custody determinations

.

A second study yielded some interesting stats on pre- and post-divorce income:

incometoneeds.png

Women's income declined regardless of their work status:

income_work.png

Demographics and more information about child custody and support below the fold.

DEMOGRAPHICS

1. Parents with physical custody at the time of the survey were overwhelmingly female:

82.2% mothers
17.8 fathers

NOTE: The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child(ren) lived during the survey interview when their other parent(s) lived outside the household, although there may be equal joint- or split-custody
arrangements.
These numbers reflect actual physical custody at a point in time, not custody awards to mothers vs. fathers.

2. Custodial mothers are less likely to be divorced/separated (44 vs 54%) and more likely to have never married (37 vs 25%) than custodial fathers.

Source: Census Bureau, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support

3. Custodial mothers are roughly twice as likely to live in poverty as custodial fathers:

cust_poverty.png

CHILD SUPPORT

4. Only half (50.6%) of custodial parents have a child support award or agreement. 90% of these agreements are formal/legal. 9% are informal agreements between the parties.

Mothers are more likely to have an award/agreement (55% vs 30%) than fathers.

5. Fewer than half of parents with a child support agreement receive all the child support they are owed:
cs_received.png

6. In 2009, average child support received was about $300 per month.

The median was about $147 per month.

23% of custodial parents received $417 or more.
29% of custodial parents received nothing.

Number of Children:

7. The majority (57.2%) of custodial parents have a single child.

Mothers were more likely to have 2 or more children (44 vs. 37%) than fathers.

***********************

Release the hounds, as they say.

Posted by Cassandra at April 18, 2012 05:09 AM

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Comments

This is going to take me a while to get through, but this statement sort of jumped out at me:

The high success rate of fathers does not by itself establish gender bias against women. Additional evidence... indicates that ... in contested cases, different and stricter standards are applied to mothers.

So a statistical sample doesn't "by itself" establish "gender bias against women," but "additional evidence indicates" that the fundamental impartiality of the entire judicial system is corrupt and skewed in favor of fathers?

Damn! That must be some mighty "additional evidence" they've got there... somewhere.

Posted by: spd rdr at April 18, 2012 02:22 PM

I think I know what they're referring to, but I'd have to go back and read everything - can't do that now. I chose that quote b/c frankly I found it kind of amusing :p

The "high success rate" of custodial mothers has been widely quoted (and rarely questioned) as prima facie evidence of bias. If you don't bother to find out how many fathers even tried to get custody, the fact that 85 or so % of mothers *got* custody does nothing to establish a grossly unfair system. We're assuming the sample isn't skewed/self-selecting, which is a big assumption.

That has never made sense to me. Nor, IMO, does the fact that when fathers fight for custody, they are actually more likely than mothers to win. Again, we don't know if the sample is skewed by other factors (maybe - as it turns out, this is the case - fathers who spend more time with the kids before divorce are more likely to seek custody). Maybe they're more motivated if they don't think their ex is a good mom. There could be all kinds of things going on here.

What I do know is that if someone believes that the courts are biased based solely on the % of women who get custody (without knowing whether the fathers were OK with that or not), then on what rational basis could they question that fathers winning the majority of contested custody cases shows bias against mothers?

It is a puzzlement :p

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2012 02:46 PM

Lots to digest here... One question jumps out at me - The Sage study mentions time spent with children by fathers going from 2.5 hrs/wk in 1965 to 6.5 hrs/wk in 2000. It then mentions time spent by women as 12.9 hrs/wk in 2000, but I can't find the 1965 number anywhere. I'm guessing that average is decreasing for women, which doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it's an interesting bit of data to be omitted in such a numbers centric report.

Posted by: Pogue at April 18, 2012 03:54 PM

Well... I'd need a few anecdotes to settle some of my questions. :)

I'll have to give this a more careful reading and follow the links, but my first impression is that there is a whole lot of bad information out there on this subject.

Posted by: Allen at April 18, 2012 03:56 PM

The Sage study mentions time spent with children by fathers going from 2.5 hrs/wk in 1965 to 6.5 hrs/wk in 2000. It then mentions time spent by women as 12.9 hrs/wk in 2000, but I can't find the 1965 number anywhere. I'm guessing that average is decreasing for women, which doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it's an interesting bit of data to be omitted in such a numbers centric report.

That seems reasonable to me, Pogue. I think I found a more complete description of the study

The first national-level study was conducted in 1965, and it was replicated in 1975, 1985, and 1995. They drew on other time-diary studies from the late 1990s and early this decade, and made use of the Current Population Survey data on work hours, the 2000 General Social Survey, and other material.

Time diaries indicate that married fathers spent an average 6.5 hours a week caring for their children in 2000, a 153 percent increase since 1965. Married mothers spent 12.9 hours, a 21 percent increase. Single mothers spent 11.8 hours, a 57 percent increase.

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2012 04:06 PM

Well... I'd need a few anecdotes to settle some of my questions. :)

OK, buster - that wins Comment of the Day :)

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2012 04:07 PM

FWIW, I don't know if it's bad information, or just statistical illiteracy.

I only put information up here if I could find it corroborated by several studies with fairly consistent results. That's what took me so long.

But there are a lot of people out there using "disparate impact" reasoning: IOW, if blacks are 13% of the population and they are 90% of NFL players, obviously the NFL is racially discriminating against white players. Oddly, people embrace that reasoning (lots of conservatives do!) when it delivers an outcome they like, but criticize it when they don't care for the outcome (as in, women are 51% of the population therefore they should be 51% of mathematicians or gender injustics has occurred).

I was honestly quite surprised by what I found - as with no fault, I started off fully believing the family court system was VERY biased against men. This wasn't the result of a whole lot of conscious thought: it was more of an impression.

Now, I am not so sure and I'd go as far as to say that I'm leaning towards the presence of little/no systemic bias.

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2012 04:11 PM

"Well... I'd need a few anecdotes to settle some of my questions. :)"

Welcome to the big analysis. There are a million datum scurrying around in there, each with their own anecdote.

Posted by: Joe Friday at April 18, 2012 04:26 PM

I think I found a more complete description of the study

That is interesting... Even more so that from what they're saying the changes have actually occurred since 1985, which pretty much eliminates blaming (crediting) the social changes of the '60's as being a causal factor which would have been my guess.

"The rise in child-care time documented in parents' diaries began after 1985. Mothers' child-care hours fell from 1965 to 1985, consistent with an era in which the average number of children per family declined, women's employment rose sharply, and single parenting increased. Since then, though, mothers with paid jobs and mothers without them have increased their time with their children. Married fathers' child-care hours changed little until 1985, and rose substantially after that."

Posted by: Pogue at April 18, 2012 04:29 PM

I would have guessed that mothers spent less time with their kids on average, too Pogue.

That's one reason I'm such a stickler about research. I never have time to do as much as I'd like and I always take it with a grain of salt, but it's really shocking to me how many times something "everyone knows" has turned out to be totally unsupported by any serious data.

People don't usually go looking for evidence to support conclusions they don't agree with.

In this case, I wasn't looking for it because it contradicted my belief. It wasn't until the moron PUA types started blathering on and on about how horribly unfair life is and how that justifies pretty much anything they feel like doing that I started really wondering: are they correct?

Because I never once saw them cite a single statistic that (if true) would support their version of events. As I said earlier, the whole disparate impact argument is a non-player with me.

This is one of those cases where I found something I was not expecting to find. I had begun to suspect that the conventional wisdom might be wrong, but I didn't think it might be *this* wrong.

I will say this: I worked when my oldest boy was a toddler for about 9 months because we desperately needed the money. Despite arranging my work schedule so I only missed 2 hours of the time he was awake, I felt terribly guilty and probably spent more time with him than I would have, otherwise as a result. So it's plausible.

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2012 04:39 PM

What jumps out at me -- especially clicking through to your survey on income, and comparing the graphs for men as well -- is that Part Time/Full Time earnings for divorced women are so consistent. That's counter-intuitive: normally we'd expect the full-time pay line to be much higher.

All I can think of is that that women who divorce strive to earn just enough to maximize the benefit of EITC and other welfare payments: beyond that level you start coming off the "safety net," which as Ms. McArdle points out means facing the highest marginal tax increases in the world.

This looks like a major disincentive for these women to work full time, if they are in a field where their rate of pay achieves that income level on a part-time basis. That, in return, is going to have significant effects on their promotion potential within their field, etc.

Posted by: Grim at April 18, 2012 04:49 PM

"That's one reason I'm such a stickler about research. I never have time to do as much as I'd like and I always take it with a grain of salt, but it's really shocking to me how many times something "everyone knows" has turned out to be totally unsupported by any serious data."
Data has been the downfall of many prophets claims of the matter/science being settled.

It's so good that you're posting again M'lady. Always excellent.

Posted by: bthun at April 18, 2012 04:51 PM

What jumps out at me -- especially clicking through to your survey on income, and comparing the graphs for men as well -- is that Part Time/Full Time earnings for divorced women are so consistent. That's counter-intuitive: normally we'd expect the full-time pay line to be much higher.

I would think a key point here would be that if you're part time, you aren't guaranteed health care or other benefits FT-ers get. To a custodial mother, that would be a HUGE issue.

If I were in that position, my impulse would be to work as few hours as possible until my kids were in school and old enough to be in some kind of after school activity. I'd rather scrimp on money that parental attention, especially after a divorce. I've seen kids end up pretty messed up after a bad divorce and better safe than sorry.

But not having benefits might well push me over the edge to FT. That could be a major security issue, especially if your children aren't covered by their Dad's policy. My firm doesn't make us pay for HC insurance, which is a HUGE benefit. So I actually have The Unit on part of my insurance (vision and dental). He has basic HC insurance through his job, mostly b/c we're cautious, even though he pays for it and I don't.

We're still debating what to do next year.

All I can think of is that that women who divorce strive to earn just enough to maximize the benefit of EITC and other welfare payments: beyond that level you start coming off the "safety net," which as Ms. McArdle points out means facing the highest marginal tax increases in the world.

If I remember correctly, though, only 30% or so of custodial parents receive transfer payments from the govt. My memory may be off - I looked at an awful lot of studies over the last few days.

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2012 05:04 PM

It's so good that you're posting again M'lady.

I really did miss you all terribly, bthun. Can't tell you how nice it is seeing all those familiar names in the comments, and having the benefit of your insights (and sometimes well deserved criticisms!).

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2012 05:09 PM

Hi Cass,

Very interesting post, and I agree with you that a lot of the rhetoric from fathers' rights groups is excessive. However, I would approach the study that you mention with a huge amount of caution (or indeed any study produced by a body that has the words "gender bias" in its title).

I analyzed the Massachusetts study that you refer to and found that it was quite shoddy and unsupported in its conclusions. I briefly discuss the problems with it in this column: http://www.cathyyoung.net/bgcolumns/2004/divorce.html

Basically, the biggest problem with the study is that it did not separate contested from uncontested custody cases. Many of the cases in which the father received custody were ones in which this arrangement was achieved by mutual agreement.

Overall, when the father asked for sole custody, he received it 44% of the time. When the mother asked for sole custody, she received it 75% of the time, and the vast majority of the rest received joint legal/primary physical custody.

Also, at one point in the study, the authors actually state that female non-custodial parents are disproportionately likely to have either mental/emotional problems or physical handicaps (this is stated in explaining why women who do not have primary custody are far less likely than men to have child support obligations imposed on them). This suggests that cases in which mothers lose custody are not entirely typical and often, fathers only seek custody when the mother is in some way "unfit."

I haven't looked at the studies claiming that false allegations of sexual abuse in divorce cases are quite rare, but just looking at your summary, I wonder what role the investigators' and the judges' own biases played in these conclusions -- especially the conclusion that 21% of sexual abuse allegations by fathers against mothers were intentionally false, as opposed to 1.3% of those made by men. Could this be because "everyone knows" that women don't molest kids, so an allegation by the father against the mother is far more likely to be seen as intentionally false?

Not to shamelessly toot my own horn, but I discuss divorce/custody issues pretty extensively in my book Ceasefire; it was published in 1999, so the data is somewhat out of date by now, but you may still find it to be of interest.

Posted by: Cathy Young at April 18, 2012 06:13 PM

Cass:

EITC isn't a transfer payment, it's a refundable tax credit. The difference may be a little technical (since in either case you're getting a check from the government for money you didn't earn), but the distinction is legally real enough that I would think it wouldn't show up in your "transfer payment" statistic.

Posted by: Grim at April 18, 2012 06:30 PM

Meaning -- since the line for men and women turns out to be pretty similar, post-divorce -- that something close to 100% of divorcees are receiving checks from the government for money they didn't earn.

Thus, family collapse is a huge social expense, the cost of which is masked by a technical distinction in how we draw the charts.

Posted by: Grim at April 18, 2012 06:33 PM

Thanks for the insights, Cathy! I will take a look.

I think the way I represented it ('where the fathers requested custody') was OK, but I was juggling a lot of studies and I'll have to go back and check.

A few comments:

...the biggest problem with the study is that it did not separate contested from uncontested custody cases. Many of the cases in which the father received custody were ones in which this arrangement was achieved by mutual agreement.

I'm going to have to go back and look at the wording, but I see the same problem with stats about how many of the mothers got custody. I've never seen much (or any, really) context around whether the cases were contested or not.

But I agree they should be apples to apples comparisons (mothers who got custody in contested cases vs. fathers who got custody in contested cases, or mothers who got custody overall vs. fathers who got custody overall). It seems that mixing the two would be what would be misleading.

I haven't looked at the studies claiming that false allegations of sexual abuse in divorce cases are quite rare, but just looking at your summary, I wonder what role the investigators' and the judges' own biases played in these conclusions -- especially the conclusion that 21% of sexual abuse allegations by fathers against mothers were intentionally false, as opposed to 1.3% of those made by men. Could this be because "everyone knows" that women don't molest kids, so an allegation by the father against the mother is far more likely to be seen as intentionally false?

Possible, but then statistics about sexual abuse aren't exactly laden with cases where the female is the abuser. Which is not at all the same as saying females never commit such acts: it's just to say that more men do (just as more men kill their own children, etc). These aren't subjective stats, and to me it's problematic for conservatives to say that there are differences between men and women, but then turn around and object when there's something fairly objective like murder stats (hard to hide those bodies!) :)

My personal belief - based on nothing more than a lifetime of watching mothers and fathers - would be to think fewer Dads would ask for full custody. I did see stats showing that custodial fathers work more hours a week than married men with kids, but custodial mothers, don't. And my purely anecdotal experience has been that even Dads who love their kids tend to spend more hours at work when they're small.

I don't discount bias in the Mass report, but I did run across numerous other references to studies on fathers' rights sites saying exactly the same thing, and I would think their bias would cut in the other direction.

Anyway, looking forward to reading your article and thanks for letting me know about the book!

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2012 06:42 PM

I don't discount bias in the Mass report, but I did run across numerous other references to studies on fathers' rights sites saying exactly the same thing, and I would think their bias would cut in the other direction.

Hmm, are you sure? Because if anything the stats I've seen fathers' rights groups bandy about lean in the opposite direct; they point to the fact that mothers gets custody in the vast majority of cases as prima facie evidence of bias.

As for sexual abuse -- I'm somewhat less inclined than you to credit innate sex differences in behavior (or at least more likely to emphasize the huge overlap in individual behavior across gender lines), but I certainly don't deny that sexual abusers are much more likely to be male. What I'm saying is that because of that, judges (and investigators) are probably more likely to assume that the father who accuses the mother of sexual abuse is intentionally lying, rather than honestly mistaken (or even paranoid). Although I would imagine that some sexual abuse charges made by fathers are directed not at the mom but at the mom's new boyfriend.

Also, I would point out that the vast majority of custody cases are uncontested. So, even if only a very small percentage of custody cases overall involve wrongful allegations of sexual abuse, the percentage may be much higher when you look at contested cases only.

(I may be slightly biased because a family friend -- the son of a friend of my mom's -- is currently dealing with completely insane allegations of abuse from his ex, which probably wouldn't even count in this kind of study because they were not made initially during the divorce but about two years later when the ex began to try to take away his visitation rights. Which ever so coincidentally happened immediately after he remarried.)

Posted by: Cathy Young at April 18, 2012 08:37 PM

If you don't believe that 1) men and women are completely different, but 2) women should never receive custody of kids, even when they've been those kids' primary caregiver, I'm going to have to conclude that you are some sort of feminist, and do my level best to have you kicked out of the conservative movement.

Posted by: Joy McCann/Little Miss Attila at April 18, 2012 11:33 PM

Hmm, are you sure? Because if anything the stats I've seen fathers' rights groups bandy about lean in the opposite direct; they point to the fact that mothers gets custody in the vast majority of cases as prima facie evidence of bias

Yes - I can provide links. They all cited the same stat (but no attribution, which made me suspicious) of 50%. There were a lot of unattributed stats out there. My preference is always to cite the original source if possible. I don't have a Lexis/Nexis account, so I"m limited to what I can find or buy on the Web.

I would point out that the vast majority of custody cases are uncontested. So, even if only a very small percentage of custody cases overall involve wrongful allegations of sexual abuse, the percentage may be much higher when you look at contested cases only.

That's a point I've made myself many times in other posts :p

Here's the takeaway - what this post addresses is the allegation that because 80+ % of custody goes to the woman, the courts must be biased.

As you point out, most custody cases are uncontested. That cuts both ways, though. If you're trying to decide whether the *courts* are biased, you have to look at how many Dads even *ask* for custody and the disposition of those contested cases. In the Mass study cited above (I went back last night and tightened up the wording to make it more clear) we have:

1. A study of 2100 cases where the father asked for custody. 29% got sole and 65% got joint. What we don't know here is who was the primary caretaker before the divorce. If all these men were the primary caretaker, then arguably this should be closer to 50% sole custody, all other things being equal(!). But we don't know.

2. Two studies, with 700 and 500 cases, where about 8% of dads asked for custody. Results strikingly similar, but I tend to wonder whether the first stat (67%) represents only sole custody? The same sizes aren't large here, so a few cases would have a tremendous impact on the percentages.

3. LA County - not much info.

4. National study, appellate courts. Not sure what sample size is here but it has to be a subset of Dads who originally asked for custody and persisted to the appellate level. Still, it shows something important: if you're willing to fight, your chances of winning aren't bad.

Here are several references to the 50% number:

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/more-fathers-getting-custody-in-divorce/

http://knowledgebase.findlaw.com/kb/2010/Jan/59218.html

http://www.menslegal.com/blog/entry/statistics-reveal-that-50-percent-of-fathers-who-seek-primary-custody-are-successful.html

http://www.workingmother.com/special-reports/custody-lost

This is the most detailed link:

http://homepages.uwp.edu/martinm0/child_custody_issues.htm

Statistics showing that women gain custody of their children 90% of the time reflect the fact that over the past 50 years, fathers rarely asked for custody. A study of Utah custody decisions between 1970-1993 shows that only 13% of fathers requested custody (Mason and Quirk 1997: 217).

When fathers do contest custody, studies show they win anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of the time. Maccoby and Mnookin studied 930 divorce cases in California in the 1980's and found that only 14 of these ended up before a judge. But of those cases, fathers won custody 50% of the time (Maccoby & Mnookin 1992).

Weitzman and Dixon found that in Los Angeles County alone in the 1970's, fathers gained custody 63% of the time (Weitzman and Dixon 1986).

A study by the Massachusetts State Supreme Court Taskforce on Gender found that fathers who contest custody in Massachusetts win sole or joint physical custody more than 70% of the time (Jacobs, 1997:11).

Another study in Minneapolis found fathers winning custody in 45% of the contested cases (Polikoff, 1993:11).

All told, I looked at over 50 sources for this post. Most I ruled out, but that's a fair amount of research for a simple blog post.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 19, 2012 05:42 AM

If you don't believe that 1) men and women are completely different, but 2) women should never receive custody of kids, even when they've been those kids' primary caregiver, I'm going to have to conclude that you are some sort of feminist, and do my level best to have you kicked out of the conservative movement.

*snort*

Posted by: Man-hating Misandrist Feminazi...but I repeat myownself at April 19, 2012 05:58 AM

Little Miss Attila! Good to see you. And *snort*, like she said.

When guys start to stay home with kids in large numbers, they'll start to have some notion how that side of the equation works. Until then, it would be insane to expect them to win the lion's share of custody cases even if we magically removed all bias from judges. Similarly, when guys start to earn less than women on average, they can expect to quit seeing marriage (or divorce) as a transfer of wealth from men to women.

On the flip side, if when women rely on men to take care of the kids and go on to make a lot more money themselves, they're probably going to be horrified to find that the men win custody of the kids and expect child-support payments or alimony to boot. Boo hoo.

Most divorces don't involve one spouse who's devastated and another who's just thrilled with the results. It's usually pretty unspeakable all around, especially if there are kids.

Having said all that, I know there are people who use custody disputes and TROs as tactical weapons in a quest for money or revenge, and that's despicable.

Posted by: Texan99 at April 19, 2012 08:22 AM

Very interesting stats. I wonder what those stats look like from say 2000-2010?? Lets see, between 2001 and 2009 here are some anecdotes. In one case the father didn't want custody at all, just visitation. Was never asked for alimony, just child support (and has had difficulty keeping up with that let alone spending time with his child). In 2 other cases the father has custody as the mothers are still 'finding' themselves. One mother took the father to court recently asking for alimony and judge said Nope - you have degree, you have job (higher paying than father by $23,000 per yr) . . . judge almost decided to make her pay him alimony except father didn't want it. Three other situations involve joint custody which, for the most part, work very well and were mutually agreed upon by both parties from the very beginning. IMO studies only give you a broad overview of the particular issue, in this case divorce and custody. The devil is in the details. And I agree with Texan99 - custody and the finances should never ever be used as weapons. The losers end up being themselves and their relationship with their child.

Posted by: Nina at April 19, 2012 09:10 AM

One mother took the father to court recently asking for alimony and judge said Nope - you have degree, you have job (higher paying than father by $23,000 per yr) . . . judge almost decided to make her pay him alimony except father didn't want it.

Bwa ha ha ha!!! Now *that's" funny!

Seriously, I ran into lots of stories and studies showing exactly what you're describing - while still in the minority, higher earning (and often childless) females are being ordered to pay alimony to their husbands and mothers are losing custody because Dad was the primary caretaker.

Working in family law for a short time was enough to drive home to me that every situation is different and in many situations, there's really no great outcome. These are people who have already failed to cooperate and compromise, and who often have retreated to their own corners and refused to even try to see the other party's point of view.

I began in family law very biased in favor of men. I left with the impression that there was a lot more truth to feminist stereotypes than I wanted to admit. I saw incredibly scummy behavior far more often than was good for my peace of mind from both men and women.

Which often caused me to think, "Now that should have been a marriage made in heaven. Those two deserved each other."

Posted by: Man-hating Misandrist Feminazi...but I repeat myownself at April 19, 2012 09:52 AM

Which often caused me to think, "Now that should have been a marriage made in heaven. Those two deserved each other."

LOL!!!!!

I remember reading a post somewhere from a guy who used to work in family law. He apparently hated it so much he used to fantasize about being T-Boned on the way to work and forced to spend weeks in the hospital because at least it would get him out of going to his job. And I think it was Stephen King who once wrote that custody does an even better job than divorce of turning people into insects.

Posted by: colagirl at April 19, 2012 10:49 AM

It was the worst job I've ever had. Bar none.

Posted by: Cass at April 19, 2012 11:01 AM

Bar none.

Was that a lawyer joke?

Posted by: MikeD at April 19, 2012 02:49 PM

I wish I were clever enough to have thought of that!

Posted by: Cass at April 19, 2012 03:07 PM

Or of a twisted enough mind to find puns humorous. Like me. The Lovely Bride thinks it is my most unattractive feature. Punning, that is.

Posted by: MikeD at April 19, 2012 03:16 PM

The woman who wanted alimony went thru 3 attorneys before she finally gave up . . . Which leads me to wonder as I wander . . . when did alimony become maintenance? When my attorney informed me I could ask for maintenance I had to laugh. I said . . maintenance makes me think of needing to hire an electrician or a plumber or, speaking as a ranchers daughter, perform maintenance on a tractor! And would that be twisted punning or punning twisted?? ;-)

Posted by: Nina at April 19, 2012 11:40 PM

It is unfortunate that the information stating that fathers who request and fight for custody is so old (22 years old or so). Anything newer?

Posted by: AmyInNH at September 8, 2012 03:02 PM

The way custody is described (85% "awarded") is inaccurate. Most of those women are not awarded because they never go to court. It would be more accurate to say that the 30% of fathers seek custody and get it half the time, which is more than what is actually warranted if you look at whether or not they were very involved with the child beforehand. Just because 85% of mothers and 15% fathers have custody doesn't mean that the system is biased towards men. In fact it is heavily biased towards fathers, because they weren't actually primary caretakers in half the custody cases they bring forth. The first comment was interesting- the "other evidence" might be a lot of things, but the fact that not 30% of men are the primary caretakers of children (maybe 1-2%)but 30% seek custody should tell you something. There is no judicial bias agaisnt men; they get custody half the time they seek it, and it isn't even warranted that much of the time.

That said, 70% of men do not seek custody because they were not the primary caretaker before, and don't suddenly want to be in the case of divorce. They know that their children will be better off in the immediate care of their mother, it was their mother that always had taken care of them, and had done just fine. Most men who care about their kids support the mother, remain involved with their kids, and do not seek to disrupt the roles that were already established.

Since men are not actually the primary caretakers 30% of the time, you have to wonder what motivates the men who are not primary caretakers to seek custody. Father's rights groups prey on men's indignation that their wives have left them and their hurt feelings, and they empower abusers and other inappropriate people to seek custody the same as anyone else. They are very dangerous for this reason. They simply do not believe that men EVER abuse their wives or children, they NEVER argue for an individual woman even if if the man is a proven abuser. These groups are totally ideological and are all about sticking it to women. They encourage men to control or punish the wife, because that is the type of man who is attracted to the movement in the first place, and what this movement is all about. These men believe that it is THEIR household and family, the wife is not a full person, and that the wife and children are their property. This eventually becomes unbearable for the wife. The movement and that mentality is about privileges, not rights. It ruins marriages, and seeks revenge on women. Abusers are disproportionately involved with this movement. Almost none of the men involved with this movement were primary caretakers of their children beforehand, because almost no men are.

Men who seek custody are the exception, and that also has a lot to do with support enforcement- since it has been enforced more consistently since the 90s we've seen the numbers of dads seeking custody almost double. Abusers are also twice as likely to seek custody.

Want to be a good dad? Support mom and avoid "father's rights" groups. If mom was the primary caretaker before, that IS what is best for the child.

http://americanmotherspoliticalparty.org/ampp-article-library-family-court-custody-abuse-dv/1-research-articles-family-court-bias-custody-abuse-battered-moms/64-want-to-be-a-good-dad-support-mom-and-avoid-fathers-rights-groups

Posted by: Robin at February 22, 2013 12:43 AM

All I can think of is that that women who divorce strive to earn just enough to maximize the benefit of EITC and other welfare payments:

Your income has to be so low to get any kind of gov benifits. Having a part-time job would make you over qualifyed so I doubt that has anything to do with it.

Posted by: someone at March 1, 2013 09:32 AM

Excerpted above from this blog:

"Father's rights groups prey on men's indignation that their wives have left them and their hurt feelings, and they empower abusers and other inappropriate people to seek custody the same as anyone else. They are very dangerous for this reason. They simply do not believe that men EVER abuse their wives or children, they NEVER argue for an individual woman even if if the man is a proven abuser. These groups are totally ideological and are all about sticking it to women. They encourage men to control or punish the wife, because that is the type of man who is attracted to the movement in the first place, and what this movement is all about. These men believe that it is THEIR household and family, the wife is not a full person, and that the wife and children are their property. This eventually becomes unbearable for the wife. The movement and that mentality is about privileges, not rights. It ruins marriages, and seeks revenge on women. Abusers are disproportionately involved with this movement."

That about says it all regarding the ability, or lack thereof, to produce fact-based commentary -- and serves to focus on the relative ability of the blog's author to present objectively. As cop show lovers might remark appropriately; "busted!"

Posted by: Kevin Lyons at April 25, 2013 12:21 PM

A random commentor says something you disagree strongly with, and this is the blog author's problem?

You fail logic.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 25, 2013 02:45 PM

I guess I'm supposed to delete comments I don't agree with, or be accused of having written them myself :p

Posted by: Cass at April 25, 2013 02:57 PM

I am thankful someone else is doing the research. It's not a question of who is at fault. Statistic's should show us if the system is broken or flawed. I believe a child deserves both parents support consistently in all area's of their life. If two parents can not be fair on both sides we see they are turning to the system.

Posted by: IAngela Marlow at June 13, 2013 12:12 PM

"Father's rights groups prey on men's indignation that their wives have left them and their hurt feelings, and they empower abusers and other inappropriate people to seek custody the same as anyone else. They are very dangerous for this reason. They simply do not believe that men EVER abuse their wives or children, they NEVER argue for an individual woman even if if the man is a proven abuser. These groups are totally ideological and are all about sticking it to women. They encourage men to control or punish the wife, because that is the type of man who is attracted to the movement in the first place, and what this movement is all about. These men believe that it is THEIR household and family, the wife is not a full person, and that the wife and children are their property. This eventually becomes unbearable for the wife. The movement and that mentality is about privileges, not rights. It ruins marriages, and seeks revenge on women. Abusers are disproportionately involved with this movement."

I am steaming at this comment right now. Perhaps this might be accurate, although I'd like to know the source of your info. My fiance is currently fighting for custody of his two little boys. And as a woman who's "been there, done that," I wholly understand what an "abuser" looks like (I've dated some of the most narcissistic, controlling pigs out there, not proud, but now I know what they look like), and I can definitely say that my fiance is not one of them. He's an amazing man who would give you the shirt off of his back and loves his children dearly, but is dealing with--and this is ironic--a controlling, manipulative ex-wife who has vowed in the past to "live each day to make him miserable," even prior to his involvement with me. She has used his two boys as pawns to manipulate him for years, she's extremely mentally unstable (diagnosed bipolar), and can't keep a job (stole from place of employment, got fired), barely keeps a roof over the boys' heads, constantly brings the boys around ex-drug abusers and violence, and currently lives in a house with over 6 people that reside with her, including a man twice her age, who she does not even refer to as a "boyfriend", yet sleeps "in his underwear" around the boys, and has a daughter that's my age (I'm almost 26).

Now, please don't be so naive and biased as to try and argue the above quoted statement that pegs men who demand custody rights as "abusers," and realize that horrible, awful, "unfit" people exist within both genders.

I completely agree that women should remain the caretakers of the children, if they are providing a safe, stable, nurturing environment. But in some instances, such as my fiance's, this just isn't the case. Not to mention, he almost fell into the category of "men who don't seek custody" until something she did to the boys really struck a cord with him and lit a fire under his ass to take action. He, like many men before him, was too afraid he wouldn't have a fighting chance because "she is their mother," nor did he wish to put everyone through unnecessary strife in court, but after seeing those boys suffer progressively, the decision to take action became pretty clear.

And it is very true that some women do seek custody rights as a sick form of revenge and for their own greedy gain, rather than thinking of the best interests of their children. From my experience, I rest pretty assured that the majority of men seeking custody of their children, regardless of if they were primary caretakers up until that point or not, have some serious concerns with the ability of the mother to care for those children. I'm sorry, but if one parent can provide a more safe, stable environment, both emotionally and financially, then that's where those children should be. Thank heavens for "best interest of the child" to protect us from biased lunatics that assess partial judgment.

Posted by: MythBuster at July 10, 2013 09:58 AM

I am steaming at this comment right now. Perhaps this might be accurate, although I'd like to know the source of your info.

Who is this addressed to? The author of that comment left her email address (see - Posted by: Robin at February 22, 2013 12:43 AM). I can't speak for her, haven't endorsed her comment (I'm assuming she's female, though I don't know that for certain), and have no real interest in defending it.

FWIW, I don't have any factual basis for agreeing or disagreeing with this

From my experience, I rest pretty assured that the majority of men seeking custody of their children, regardless of if they were primary caretakers up until that point or not, have some serious concerns with the ability of the mother to care for those children.

It seems logical enough, but then I worked in a family law practice and saw fathers who were abusive (as in sexual abuse of daughters) seek custody. I also saw some fathers seek custody and then park the kids with a girlfriend - IOW, the father who wanted custody wasn't actually interested in spending time with his kids.

I assume because it's my firm belief that men aren't any more prone to malicious behavior than women that these folks are in the minority of fathers who seek custody. But I have no evidence to back this up.

re: ... if one parent can provide a more safe, stable environment, both emotionally and financially, then that's where those children should be. Thank heavens for "best interest of the child" to protect us from biased lunatics that assess partial judgment.

Absolutely! But how are the courts to know which parent will do the best job? If you're dealing with a he said/she said situation, how do you decide between conflicting stories?

It's hardly unreasonable for courts to lean toward the parent who has spent the most time caring for children in the past. That's really about the most reasonable assumption that can be made. But if a father (or mother) has grounds to suspect the other parent's ability or desire to care for the children, then that parent absolutely SHOULD seek custody.

The problem lies in proving unfitness.

Posted by: Cass at July 10, 2013 12:22 PM

Oops - left this out during editing:

If your fiance is as you describe him (and the mother of the boys is as you describe her) then I wish him the best of luck with his custody fight. I've seen plenty of bad mothers over the years.

Even animals often fail to bond with their offspring, and it's not at all uncommon for animals to refuse to feed or care for their infants.

Children should be with the parent who loves them most and will do the best job of raising them. Period.

Posted by: Cass at July 10, 2013 12:25 PM

[comment deleted at request of the commenter]

Posted by: Anon at July 26, 2013 06:23 AM

I agree with much of what you say, Anon.

I am frustrated because I cannot find studies that report the central fact:when the two parties are both seeking custody, what percentage of mothers win sole physical custody, and what percent of men win sole physical custody?

Well, let's walk through the logic and see what we can figure out.

The majority of custody/child support arrangements are made out of court (IOW, they are agreed upon by the parties). So the often cited court stats are rather misleading if you're interested in the big picture.

A recent Pew study found that 8% of households with children are headed by single fathers. That's up from 1% in 1960. Of course, this number includes situations where Mom didn't want custody, or is dead. It also includes couples who are still married, which implies that the % of divorced fathers who sought custody and got it must be quite a bit higher than 8%.

The most often cited figure is simply the percentage of women who obtain sole or joint custody (about 85%). If women get sole/joint custody 85% of the time, then the other 15% should represent outcomes where the mother got neither sole, nor joint custody. Unless we're counting cases where custody goes to some 3rd party, that should mean Dad getting sole custody, right?

A great way to remove the question of gender bias would be to sharply increase the frequency of the outcome of shared physical custody. Mom and Dad have equal time with John Jr. No bias!

Here's my question about this: is the best outcome the one that's best for the child? Or "fairest" to the parents?

The current standard is supposed to be what's best for the child. I agree that child support raises perverse financial incentives, but I'm not always sure they operate the way you describe. If mothers are asking for custody because of child support (keep in mind 60-70% of divorces are initiated by the wife) than why don't the majority of their incomes go UP after divorce?

Child support can't be much of an incentive if the recipient ends up poorer than they were before. It just doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Cass at July 26, 2013 07:51 AM

Child support can't be much of an incentive if the recipient ends up poorer than they were before. It just doesn't make sense.

Strictly speaking it can in a "lowering the amount of pain" kind of way. That is, if the pain were greater, there would be even less of it.

As for cost sharing between CP and NCP, it requires a lot of assumptions. Yes, clothes are transportable, but it assumes that both the CP and NCP spend the same amount on clothes for the children. Even if the time spent is 2/3 & 1/3 the assumption that the split in clothing costs would follow suit may or may not be reasonable.

The same flows for daycare. If costs are $1,000/month and each writes a check for $500/month then that should be excluded from any other calculation. If however, the CP writes a check for the full $1,000/month, then it is reasonable for the NCP to include that $500/month in the child support payment.

Whether these assumptions are, or are not, reasonable, I have no clue. I'm just pointing out that these assumptions must be evaluated.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 26, 2013 11:40 AM

Strictly speaking it can in a "lowering the amount of pain" kind of way. That is, if the pain were greater, there would be even less of it.

That was kind of my point, though. The argument is that women wouldn't be getting divorced "but for" the supposed financial windfall of child support. But their income goes DOWN, not up, after divorce. So how can it be a windfall if they're worse off financially?

My guess is that it really isn't much of a factor at all.

As far as the true cost of raising children, I'm sorry but why would a father who cares about his children want them to have a lower standard of living simply because Mom and Dad got divorced? Parents don't divorce their children, after all.

I do question the high income child support amounts in some states - clearly the share of income formula could be a financial windfall to mothers. But the vast majority of cases aren't high income cases - they're anomalies.

Posted by: Cass at July 26, 2013 12:09 PM

A great way to remove the question of gender bias would be to sharply increase the frequency of the outcome of shared physical custody. Mom and Dad have equal time with John Jr. No bias!

Here's my question about this: is the best outcome the one that's best for the child? Or "fairest" to the parents?

So what is wanted is joint physical custody of the children by both parents, in the way that is best for the child? I have an idea of how to accomplish that.

Posted by: Grim at July 26, 2013 12:56 PM

The argument is that women wouldn't be getting divorced "but for" the supposed financial windfall of child support. But their income goes DOWN, not up, after divorce. So how can it be a windfall if they're worse off financially?

Because they would be so much more worse off without the supposed child support overage, they wouldn't be getting the divorce to start with.

Subsidizing actions to tend to make them increase.

Whether such overage actually exists is an entirely different question and one for which I have no data for in either direction.

I know that payers tend to think it does and receivers tend to think it doesn't. It's not necessarily the case that the truth is in the middle, one could be systematically wrong.

All that is really known is that if both parents were more interested in the child's welfare than their own they'd both be doing what was necessary to follow Grim's solution.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 26, 2013 01:56 PM

...what is wanted is joint physical custody of the children by both parents, in the way that is best for the child? I have an idea of how to accomplish that.

You mean actually try to make the marriage work? :p

Posted by: Cass at July 26, 2013 02:17 PM

A wild idea, I know.

Posted by: Grim at July 26, 2013 03:30 PM

You mention "joint custody" -- please define. Do you mean 50% physical custody ?? Or do you mean every-other-weekend and one eve per week -- Uncle Status ?? It was my experience in Los Angeles Superior Court 1985 to mean the latter. Please comment.

Posted by: Dean Campbell at August 21, 2013 07:15 PM

Joint physical custody is anything less than sole physical custody. One would hope the parents would consider what's best for the children rather than trying to split their time down the middle as though the children were some sort of prize to be fought over or kept score with.

I can't imagine how 50% physical custody would work out unless the kids stayed with one parent 1/2 of the month and the other the other 1/2 of the month. That could work if the parents were willing to put the kids first.

Splitting weeks up is just insane - there's no continuity and the kids could never get into a routine.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2013 08:40 PM

A very interesting and thought provoking article.

My key point is this: Child support decreases father involvement. If child support didn't exist men could at least bribe an ex into letting us see our kids because we'd have the money to do so.That's a vulgar way to put it, but that's the central point of my provocative thesis.

If you're ready to start a mass movement against child support, email me: davidgmorris@gmail.com

Posted by: David Morris at September 9, 2013 02:29 AM

The problem is that that only might (and I say might with reservation) work for upper middle class+ Sub/Exurbia.

But there are tons of fathers who couldn't give two s***s about being involved with their children and would be more than happy to never so much as admit they existed.

What of them?

You can argue that maybe the hardship would convince the moms to keep their knees closed and so it would happen less, and I oppose gov't welfare on those grounds. But the father should have kept his pants zipped too, and I've no objection to the .gov enforcing his responsibility for creating a child as well.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at September 10, 2013 01:59 PM

It seems likely that people's decision to fight for custody in court is affected by their assumed chances of winning it. So the fathers who fight for custody in court might be the ones who are already more likely to win it (for whatever reason, for example because the mother is a drug addict or whatever - make up your own examples).

So I guess it is back to square one, not much about gender bias can be derived from those samples alone.

Posted by: Björn at September 19, 2013 05:43 AM

"But there are a lot of people out there using "disparate impact" reasoning: IOW, if blacks are 13% of the population and they are 90% of NFL players, obviously the NFL is racially discriminating against white players."

I am not sure I understood correctly: is that what you think, too? Because it is obviously very flawed reasoning.

I am not from the US, but even the few things I have heard provide a simple other explanation: isn't it the case that sport stipends are one of the best ways for black guys to get into university? That would result in a lot more black people to focus on sports, and therefore end up in the NFL. Not sure if that is (part of) the correct explanation, but it doesn't matter. The point is, assuming discrimination because of such a statistic is really jumping to conclusions (likewise with the 51% of mathematicians should be women).

Posted by: Björn at September 19, 2013 06:18 AM

What I think about disparate impact, is that it's flawed reasoning :p

The original assumption it's based upon is flawed: that if there were no discrimination - no sinister forces preventing them from doing so - that people would neatly sort themselves into various professions according to the demographic makeup of society.

Half of all nurses would be men. Half of all sumo wrestlers would be female.

It's a silly idea.

Posted by: Cass at September 19, 2013 07:32 AM

It seems likely that people's decision to fight for custody in court is affected by their assumed chances of winning it.

More likely than that people's decision to fight for custody in court is affected by how badly they actually *want* custody?

Why?

Posted by: Cass at September 19, 2013 07:33 AM

so if I (mother) am getting paid child support because I have our daughter 70% of the time(as it stated in the support papers).does he have the right to come take our child without my consent?...we have never gone to court to establish custody...only child support

Posted by: nikole at September 23, 2013 11:22 PM

Do you know of any studies that have ever been done to see if child support funds are being spent to benefit the patent or benefit the children? My ex received a large sum of my tax refund to pay for my arrears and he spent the entire $6000 to pay his car off. In addition, he has not worked since 2004 and he 100% relies on my child support, therefore, my child support pays his utility and internet bills. Any adult would have utility bills to pay regardless if they had children or not. Regarding his internet bill, my children are under school age; they do not need the internet.

Posted by: carla austin at October 17, 2013 03:51 PM

The problem, Carla, is that money is fungible. Once it goes into the pot, your child support and any income he has are indistiguishable. In theory, the $6,000 of your CS payments, would free up $6,000 of his own income to pay for the children. Since your description implies that he has no other income, paying off the car debt ensures that your children's transportation doesn't get taken away. This is a benefit to your children.

Secondly, while there is little marginal contribution to the utilities from children. If the money that paid for "his" portion is deducted from the CS payments, since by your account he could likely not afford it at all, the children would also have to go without lights/heat/etc.

It's a common complaint. The non-custodial parent is more than willing to support the children, but understandably objects to financing the ex. The custodial parent seems to be saying: "The only relationship between us I want to maintain is with your wallet".

It sucks that supporting the kids necessarily means supporting the ex-spouse if you are the non-custodial parent. There's no doubt about that.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 21, 2013 01:37 PM

The problem, Carla, is that money is fungible. Once it goes into the pot, your child support and any income he has are indistiguishable. In theory, the $6,000 of your CS payments, would free up $6,000 of his own income to pay for the children. Since your description implies that he has no other income, paying off the car debt ensures that your children's transportation doesn't get taken away. This is a benefit to your children.

Secondly, while there is little marginal contribution to the utilities from children. If the money that paid for "his" portion is deducted from the CS payments, since by your account he could likely not afford it at all, the children would also have to go without lights/heat/etc.

This all falls under the general category of "overhead" associated with being a parent. As you said, money is fungible. The best the courts can do is calculate a reasonable amount of "overhead" and base awards on that. How the parent actually *spends* the money is another matter.

FWIW, I don't know of a study like the one Carla is looking for, but I imagine it would be very difficult to establish any sort of empirical baseline because you'd need to compare current expenses for the custodial parent on food/clothing/utilities/transportation/medical with the same expenses for a fictitious situation in which the parent didn't have custody.

It would be very easy to game the numbers, too.

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Posted by: Maisie at November 11, 2013 02:46 PM

Just an FYI, the resource you've cited is from 1990, 4 years before the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) was introduced.

I would wager that a similar report from after 1994 would yield much different results.

Posted by: Fakey McFake at December 23, 2013 02:55 PM

Hi,

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The Journey of A Mother Through A Broken Judicial System... A Story of Love... and A DESPERATE CRY FOR CHANGE.

This powerful book was written by a strong woman who loved her daughter enough to share this journey with the World. It is numbing to realize how the people in power turned blind eyes to the abuse of this child... how the love of this child kept her mother on the path that few would take.

My prayer is that this book will change the way we think about the legal and moral rights of these innocents. It should be required reading for anyone entering into the social services.

I urge you to read this book and demand changes in our broken system, so that others can be saved. This is a story of love beyond measure. Important and life changing.

Thank you,

Lynda J. Allen
amazon.com/author/lyndajallen
https://www.createspace.com/4351494

Posted by: Lynda Allen - Author at December 26, 2013 06:57 PM

[comment deleted]

This isn't the place for relitigating or rehashing marital or custody disputes (much less disparaging people who aren't here to defend themselves), so I've deleted this comment.

Posted by: HOLLANDER at January 8, 2014 10:58 AM

Honestly, in Massachusetts, a mother does not pay child support, no big deal; a fathers does not pay--he goes to jail. Also, joint custody is best for the child, and not a loss for the mother, as this blog alleges. Quite simply, if people want what is best for the child, two things can help this happen, a: give the child to the highest earning parent and/or the parent with the most education (more education in a parent results in better education outcomes for children and this would help reduce child poverty); and b: tax child support--this would create a huge incentive for the (mostly) fathers to pay and would allow studies to disengage actual single and self-supported poor mothers from those living high on child support and simply claiming poverty in order to get unearned benefits.

Posted by: Daniela at January 13, 2014 11:52 AM

"This blog" does not "allege" anything wrt to joint custody (and by that, do you mean joint legal or joint physical custody? They're quite different.). Happy to debate things I've actually said, but don't see much point in debating strawman (or woman, or LBGT) statements.

Posted by: Cass at January 13, 2014 12:04 PM

I have been in bondage ever since my ex leave for another woman, It was really hell for me and everybody told me to forget about him but i could not because i love him so much, Things get worse until my friend introduced me to this great spell caster Dr. Kalo who have save so many life and relationships and i contacted him through his email (Choosenlovespell@gmail.com) i explain everything to him and he cast a spell for me immediately after three days, everything turn around and my boyfriend come to me on his knee begging for forgiveness that i am the one and only woman in his life now. i was surprise i have never seen such a miracle in my life. I am so thankful to this man and i will forever publish his name Dr Kalo

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Posted by: ashley at February 14, 2014 11:54 PM

Joint custody is NOT best for the children. It keeps them in continual transition between homes/parents. Most children brought up this way do not like it and remember it as a negative aspect of their childhood.
I say let the parent who will actually be there to parent the children have primary custody, not put them in the care of a step, or grand parent half the time. If one parent cared for them in the family home, then allow that to continue.
My experience is that ex wants joint custody, but when he is with the kids, won't parent. I get them back with homework not done, and they have been at his house with his girlfriend and her kids, as though they are expected to blend in.
They want their parents, not the Brady Bunch. Why can't some people be without someone in their beds for the time the kids are with them, and just give the kids the attention they need and deserve. This is not the exception, but seems to be the norm.
The girlfriend isn't even divorced yet, and has to find security by hooking up. All the kids are a mess, but nobody is listening. Please be a parent first!

Posted by: belinda at February 25, 2014 10:49 PM

I can tell you first hand that false abuse allegations run rampant. Father was the primary caregiver and mom did it as a way to try and turn the kids. You fight every day to stay in your childs lives while mom raises more allegations. 2 years and I have 50/50 custody. The courts do not care, they allow this to happen. I have police reports, therapists, the school, all have the kids reporting mom is threatening dad. The stereotype women are emotional means nothing, they focus on the stereotype that men are abusive. In my case, it was the woman who was abusive. Stay in your kids lives, they see it. They want to love both parents, thats what kids do. Let the abuser ruin their own relationship with the kids...never say anything negative. My kids are gravitating to stability and structure. It will not stop until the courts stop the genuine bias that I have seen first hand. The courts and attorneys are the root of the problem, in the end the "best interests" of the children is a buzz word and not followed. I have had 4 plus CPS investigations, a handfull of restraining orders filed against me, and they no longer issue injunctions. It takes time and money, but eventually the truth come out. The abuser will damage thier relationship with the child, you will have to help them thru it, and only then will the healing begin.

Posted by: Been there at March 5, 2014 09:01 AM

It seems likely that people's decision to fight for custody in court is affected by their assumed chances of winning it.

More likely than that people's decision to fight for custody in court is affected by how badly they actually *want* custody?

Why?


Because we live in the real world and wanting something doesn't mean you get something. Because lawyers costs money. It is expensive to fight anything in court why would people pay for a lawyer when they perceive themselves as being likely to lose anyway.

Or Perhaps men are more sensitive to the children's needs during the divorce proceedings electing not to put their children through the messiness of custody cases.

Posted by: linkreincarnate at March 22, 2014 03:49 PM

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