Even two decades into the 21st century, many family court judges still believe that women should have more responsibility for parenting their kids than men after divorce. When parents can’t reach an agreement on their own, judges are left to decide custody for them.
There has still been a considerable movement by both judges and parents toward equal parenting arrangements. Assuming that both people are fit parents, this arrangement is usually beneficial to kids and parents.
A recent survey of over 2,000 single mothers found that a 50-50 custody arrangement is also beneficial to women’s earning potential. The survey found that women who share custody equally with the father of their children are 54% more likely to have annual incomes of $100,000 or above than those where the father only has visitation rights. They’re a whopping 325% more likely to be in that income range than women who are full-time parents.
Interestingly, over half of the women said they had their children with them 100% of the time. Meanwhile, just 13% described themselves as having an equally shared custody arrangement.
More custody doesn’t necessarily mean more support
Some women who seek primary custody of their children believe that this will get them a greater amount of child support than they’d receive with a more equal arrangement. However, that’s not always the case. For one thing, fathers who have little time with their kids are more likely not to pay the child support they’re ordered to pay and be more likely to disengage from their parenting responsibilities completely.
Women who have already stepped back from their careers to care for their children during their marriages can find themselves in especially difficult financial straits if they have the bulk of the parenting responsibilities following divorce. They may never have a chance to catch up to their former spouse’s earning potential and find themselves reliant on child and spousal support.
Of course, this is one relatively small survey, and it addresses only opposite-sex couples. However, it only makes sense that unequal parenting time (no matter who’s doing the bulk of the parenting) can result in a larger pay gap between parents. That’s just one more reason why, assuming that both parents are capable of caring for their children, an equal custody arrangement is often the best option after divorce.