If you’re looking down the barrel at a messy custody negotiation, move to Kentucky or Arizona.
So says the National Parents Organization, a nonprofit that advocates for divorces to proceed in the best interests of the children, and knows those interests are best served by plenty of access to both parents. There’s also plenty of work ahead, because despite mountains of research that strongly correlates shared parenting and child welfare, family law still has its head stuck somewhere in 1957.
Back in 2014, the NPO evaluated the family law statutes of all 50 states and DC — for how explicitly these statutes permitted and/or presumed shared parenting, and whether they rewarded parents willing to do it — and found them seriously lacking. Only 17% of children of separated or divorced parents had shared parenting, and half the states got a grade of D or below.
Five years later, the updated report features many points of improvement:
- The average grade of the nine states that have enacted substantive new legislation has risen from D+ to B-.
- The number of states that exceeded a minimum shared parenting threshold has risen from 26 in 2014 to 34 in 2019.
- More states are defaulting to equal rather than shared parenting, a huge distinction since the latter is far less vague. (Kentucky earned its A by implementing “an explicit rebuttable presumption of equal physical custody,” which means “let’s start in the middle and work from there.”)
There’s also an important difference between the two states who failed both reports. New York, which has introduced eleven bills since 2014, is classified as a “battleground state,” while Rhode Island has spent the last half-decade sucking its thumb.
What are our main takeaways, then? Rhode Island needs to quit dicking around and get to work. If you’re a fit and loving parent, assert yourself: Fathers who actively seek primary or joint physical custody get it over 70% of the time. And for now, if you want to live near a breathtaking natural wonder, think Grand Canyon rather than Niagara Falls.
ON THE AIR
IN THE NEWS
Fathers and mothers hold parenting in equally high regard, but how can they share caregiving in a way that is equally rewarding for both partners?
Speaking with kids about drugs and addiction can be as difficult as it is necessary.
The medicinal-ish benefits of kids spending time outside make for an impressive, expanding list.
“I feel that the greatest gift that I can give my children is the freedom to be who they are.”
“The old fatherhood was a series of unexpressed assumptions. The new one requires intelligence and judgment. The new fatherhood is messy. It will have to be.”
“The entire arc of parenting is walking that balance beam between doing too much and doing too little.”
What is the best advice your dad ever gave you?
Turns out, hugs are even more important than we thought (and we thought they were pretty darn important).
What are the songs on your parenting soundtrack?
- “I’m a 42-year-old man who was raised in a homogeneously white community and, at times like these, bringing up a strong, black son through the simmering racial divides in our country seems an impossibility.” – Tobin Walsh, The Racism We Gift Our Children
- “But this is not a normal tired. This is not a loopy, slap happy, fuzzy-brained tired. Or even a dark-eyed, low-voiced, half-speed tired. This is an insidious, squeezing, swell-tide of sleeplessness that D carries on his back like a Buick.” – Aubrey Hirsch, The Weather
- “I had to have had some motivation beyond standing in the shade instead of sitting on a brutal chair in the sun. I know I did it as a way to be closer to KD.” – Steve DeBenedetti-Emanuel, German Soccer, Flips and Coach Steve
- “I was thinking about why she always asks for one more story or for me to just sit there until well after she’s asleep. She wants to know I’m still there, looking after her.” – James R.C. Smith, I Figured Out the Root of All Arguments–for Grown-Ups and Kids
- “I almost never asked for advice. I assumed I had it handled, which was a stupid assumption considering I’m 12 years into being a father and I still don’t have it handled.” – Clint Edwards, Advice For New Dads, From A Dad Who’s Been There
‘GRAM OF THE WEEK
Do you receive the Dad 2.0 Summit Newsletter? You should! In it we share all kinds of information and news about the Dad 2.0 Summit. Add it to your inbox! It’s the perfect way to start planning for our ninth summit, coming to Washington D.C. in 2020!