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New Study Addresses Gender-Equality Benefits Of Shared Child Custody


Shared parenting can have many benefits for children after a divorce. Indeed, lawmakers also recognize the benefits of shared parenting, both for children and parents alike. The Florida Statutes make clear that it is the state’s public policy that “each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.” Further, Florida law says that the “court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.”

Clearly, Florida lawmakers recognize how important shared child custody can be when it is appropriate, and as it turns out, there many be additional advantages to shared parenting beyond the benefits to the parent-child relationship. To be sure, according to a recent article in Forbes, shared parenting might actually help to narrow the gender pay gap.

Socialized Assumptions About Gender Can Still Affect Child Custody 

While courts across the country, including in Florida, make clear that they do not give preference to one parent over the other based on gender when it comes to determining what kind of child custody is in the best interests of the child, the recent Forbes article suggests that presumptions and biases can still seep into the child custody process. Indeed, the article cites the “presumption that mom is the caregiver first (even if she also earns money) and dad is the breadwinner first (even if he also provides care)” as bias that “still permeates every facet of our society and culture.”

As such, courts might be unknowingly operating under these misplaced and socialized assumptions even if they do not speak of them directly. And when courts determine issues like time-sharing, if a time-sharing schedule does favor the mother, parents do not often question the potentially gender-based biases that led to the outline arrangement. It is important to be clear that the article is not referring to situations involving family or domestic violence where a mother might have a majority of time-sharing in order to limit the child’s time with an abusive parent. Rather, the article is referring to the ways that socialized biases might play an unconscious role in child custody cases despite efforts to resist those socialized ideas and norms.

Shared Parenting Can Curb Gendered Assumptions and Prejudices 

It is critical for courts, and for the parties involved in a child custody case, to truly internalize the notion that there is no presumption for or against either parent in a child custody case on the basis of sex or gender. Not only can shared custody arrangements, and equally shared parenting time schedules, help to push back against sex discrimination in society more broadly, but it also may be able to help close the gender pay gap.

Indeed, according to the Forbes article, “unequal parenting arrangements” in which a mother has substantially more time-sharing “generally leave women worse off financially.” On the flip side, “those who have a 50 percent split of parenting time with their children’s father are 54 more likely to earn at least $100,000 as compared with those whose child custody arrangements only included ‘visits’ with dad.” Further, “those equal-split moms are 325 percent more likely to earn $100,000 as compared to single moms who have their children 100 percent of the time.”

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Orlando

 If you have any questions about time-sharing in Florida, one of our Orlando child custody attorneys can assist you. Contact Anderson & Ferrin today.



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