Shared Parenting: Facts and Fiction
Research Brochure by Dr. Linda Nielsen
Professor of Women’s Studies
Wake Forest University
ACFC President 2008
American Coalition for Fathers & Children
Michael McCormick, Exec. Dir.
Facts and Fictions
Fiction: Most children are satisfied with the amount of time they spend (or spent) with their fathers after their parents divorce.
Fact: The vast majority of children say they want - or wanted - more time with their fathers after their parents stopped living together. Kids want more shared parenting. 1-16
Fiction: As long as the mother has enough money, children don't pay a price for having too little or no contact with their father.
Fact: Kids with too little fathering are more likely to have problems throughout their lives related to father absence than kids whose fathers remained actively involved after the parents stop living together. 1-17
Fiction: Most divorced or never married parents are too hostile to share parenting or to benefit from programs on co-parenting.
Fact: Parents generally cooperate more after attending shared parenting programs. Only 10- 15% are in high conflict. 18-22
Fiction: Shared parenting is bad for infants or young children because they should not be separated overnight from their mother.
Fact: Very young children should not be away from either parent for more than a few days and are able to spend nights in each parent’s home. 23-26
Fiction: When parents share parenting, children are worse off financially because their dad pays much less child support.
Fact: Fathers who share parenting are the most likely to pay child support, spend additional money on their kids, and contribute to college educations. 27, 28, 33, 9
Fiction: Shared parenting is less important than good mothering because fathers know so much less about raising kids than moms do.
Fact: Fathers contribute as much as mothers to children’s well-being, even if their ways of parenting are different. 12, 17, 29-31
Fiction: Most divorced fathers are not interested in sharing more of the parenting.
Fact: The overwhelming majority of divorced fathers want more time with their children and more shared parenting. 32-39
Fiction: Children dislike shared parenting if they actually have to live part time in both parents’ homes, moving back and forth.
Fact: Kids who live part time with each parent after divorce prefer this to living only with one parent. 2, 10, 40, 41
Almost half of the children in the U.S. are deprived of the lifelong benefits of two parents who share the parenting throughout the first 18 years of their children’s lives.
Who are children living with? 42
55% mother & father - 4% unmarried
21% single mother - half divorced and half never married
14% mother and step-father
5% neither parent
2% mother and her boyfriend
1% father and step-mother
0.5% father and his girlfriend
Only 15%-20% of parents share parenting after divorce. 6, 9,15 Existing legal procedures and attitudes of people who influence the decisions about children’s living arrangements often make shared parenting harder to achieve. 25, 26, 33, 43-47