PreprintPDF Available

Equal Parenting Time The Case for a Legal Presumption

Authors:
Preprints and early-stage research may not have been peer reviewed yet.

Abstract

Equal parenting time, parent conflict, divorced fathers, parent-child relationships, legal presumptions
Equal Parenting Time: The Case for a Legal Presumption
William V. Fabricius
Arizona State University
Copyright by Oxford University Press. Not the official copy of record.
Invited paper to appear October 2019 in the Oxford Handbook of Children and the Law, edited
by J. G. Dwyer.
Pre-publication online early 2019.
Cite as:
Fabricius, W. V. (in press). Equal parenting time: The case for a legal presumption. In J. G.
Dwyer (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Children and the Law.
Abstract:
I review several sources of evidence bearing on the question of whether equal parenting time
with both parents is in the best interests of children of divorce. First, the scientific evidence
consists of correlational findings that meet four conditions necessary for a causal role of
parenting time: A legal context that constrains the possibility of self-selection; a “dose-response”
association between parenting time and father-child relationships; positive outcomes when
parents disagree and courts impose more parenting time; and negative outcomes when
relocations separate fathers and children. Second, the cultural evidence is that norms about
parenting roles have changed in the last generation, and this is reflected in public endorsement of
equal parenting time. Third, test-case evidence comes from the 2013 equal parenting law in
Arizona, which has been evaluated positively by the state’s family law professionals. Finally,
examples from recent Canadian case law show courts responding to the new cultural norms by
crafting individualized equal parenting time orders over one parent’s objections even in cases of
high parent conflict, accompanied by well-reasoned judicial opinions about how that is in
children’s best interests. I conclude that the overall pattern of evidence indicates that legal
presumptions of equal parenting time would help protect children’s emotional security with each
of their divorced parents, and consequently would have a positive effect on public health in the
form of reduced long-term stress-related mental and physical health problems among children of
divorce.
Keywords
equal parenting time, parent conflict, divorced fathers, parent-child relationships, legal
presumptions
At the heart of the current science and policy debates about children’s living
arrangements after parental divorce or separation is the question of whether it is in children’s
best interests to live equal amounts of time with each of their parents. My colleagues and I have
theorized and reviewed evidence that parenting time is an important source of children’s
emotional security about parent-child relationships, and that secure parent-child relationships, in
turn, are an important source of protection from stress-related mental and physical health
problems.1 In this chapter, I discuss the theoretical mechanisms by which parent conflict also
affects children’s emotional security; review the previous correlational evidence regarding
parenting time, parent conflict, and children’s well-being; and conclude that the correlational
evidence supports equal parenting time. The science is now entering a “second generation,” in
which opportunities are becoming available for stronger tests of whether equal parenting time
causes benefits in parent-child relationships, while the cultural norms for parenting roles after
parental separation have already evolved in the direction of equal parenting time, both of which I
discuss next. Lastly, I review findings of an initial evaluation of Arizona’s implementation of an
equal-parenting-time presumption, the status of custody law in other states regarding
presumptions of equal parenting time, and recent Canadian case law under the statutory
maximum contact principle. I conclude that the evidence to date from all these sources converges to
indicate that a legal presumption of equal parenting time is in children’s best interests, because such a
presumption is likely to strengthen the emotional security of children of divorced and separated
parents and thereby have a widespread positive impact on public health.
In our research, we measure the amount of yearly parenting time children have with their
fathers in order to test whether more parenting time, up to and including equal parenting time
with both parents, is associated with increasing benefits to children. In the older literature, and
still to some extent today, researchers have instead measured frequency of visits, using scales
with response options such as “2 to 6 times a year,” “1 to 3 times a month,” and “2 to 5 times a
week.” It has since been discovered that the number of days of parenting time cannot be reliably
calculated from such response categories; thus, these scales are of limited use in answering
modern policy questions about equal parenting time.2 More recently, one encounters the term
“shared parenting” in discussions of policy, and it is important to first consider how viable that
concept is as a foundation for policy.
How useful is the term “shared parenting” for policy?
“Shared parenting” is like a “handful of pennies.” At no point does adding another penny
make them a handful; furthermore, a handful depends on the size of the hand. The concept of a
handful is inherently vague, as is the concept of shared parenting. At no one point does
increasing the number of days and nights that the child spends at the father’s home become
shared parenting, and what one child experiences as shared parenting, as well as any benefits that
derive from it, might be different for another child. When “shared parenting” is used as a
technical term in policy discussions, the vagueness is removed by arbitrarily defining it as
ranging from some minimum proportion of parenting time with fathers (e.g., 35%), up to and
including equal parenting time with both parents.
There are currently no United States child custody statutes with a presumption for shared
parenting defined as some minimum proportion of parenting time with fathers, although some
have been proposed. Several problems would arise with such a statute. The first is that the lower
bound of the definition is likely to be insufficient for many children, but it is also likely to be the
compromise target that attorneys, mediators, and courts will encourage parents to agree to when
the father wants equal parenting time and the mother objects. For example, 35% parenting time
might seem enough to support strong father-child relationships. However, when we move from
intuition to consider what 35% parenting time (128 days) actually looks like in a parenting plan,
the view becomes less sanguine. There are 36 weeks of school, and 16 weeks total of school
vacations and holidays; thus, if the child spends half of school vacations and holidays with the
father (56 days), that leaves 72 days of parenting time during the 36 school weeks, or an average
of two days per school week. Half of those will be weekends, leaving an average of one school
day and night per week with the father. That makes it difficult for the father to be much of a
presence in the child’s school life, and makes it difficult for the child to see the father as a parent
who knows about all the different aspects of the child’s life. Two days per school week also
means that there will be long periods of time before the child returns to dad’s home, up to seven
days if the parenting plan is Wednesday and Thursday with dad one week, and Friday and
Saturday the next week. That makes it difficult for the father to establish consistent parenting
routines, and difficult for the child to adjust before it is time to leave again.
The second problem is that a presumption for “shared parenting” does not tell courts and
parents what amount of parenting time is sufficient. When such bills are proposed, they typically
include language to the effect that children should have at least the minimum proportion of
parenting time with fathers, and that they should have more, up to 50%, based on the individual
circumstances of the family. Minimum requirements, as in “minimum daily requirements” of
vitamins and minerals, usually specify the amount that is sufficient, but the above language
specifies a minimum amount of parenting time that is necessary but not sufficient. Parents will
rightly be uncertain about how much parenting time courts will deem to be sufficient under such
a standard. Incoherence in a legal standard promotes confusion and conflict between the parties,
and heterogeneity among courts in how to interpret and apply that standard.
The final problem is that a definition of shared parenting prescribes an amount of
parenting time for all families, albeit as a minimum starting point, and thus it imposes a
constraint on judicial discretion, which in some cases might not be in children’s best interests.
Thus, basing child custody statutes on a definition of shared parenting produces the worst case of
both constraints and heterogeneity in judicial decision making.
The alternative presumption is that the child should have as close to equal proportions of
parenting time with both parents as is possible for that family, on a schedule that is
individualized for each family. As we will see below, this approach is more in line with what we
know about the effects associated with different amounts of parenting time. It is also coherent
and preserves judicial discretion.
The Correlational Evidence and Policy Implications
The Meaning of Parenting Time. Comprehensive reviews of the research on the various
dimensions of non-resident father involvement began in 1999 with a review of the 63 extant
studies by Amato and Gilbreth.3 They concluded that the evidence showed that the quantity of
parenting time was less important than the quality of the father’s parenting behaviors for
children’s school success and mental health. Fabricius et al. have discussed the problems with
that conclusion.4 One problem is that most of the studies available to Amato and Gilbreth at the
time used the frequency-of-visitation scales, which fail to accurately measure the quantity of
parenting time (e.g., one visit per month could be a dinner or a whole month).
Another problem is that Amato and Gilbreth defined high-quality father parenting as
including not only the traditionally recognized behaviors (e.g., providing emotional support,
praising children’s accomplishments, maintaining consistent discipline, and explaining the
reasons for rules), but also other things such as helping with homework, and working on projects
together. Divorced fathers who are more involved in helping with homework and working on
projects together necessarily have more parenting time in which to do more of those things. That
means that divorced fathers who scored higher on “quality of parenting behaviors” in Amato and
Gilbreth’s scheme also likely had greater amounts of parenting time. Thus, the combination of an
unreliable measure of quantity of time (i.e., frequency of visitation), and a confounded measure
of quality of time (i.e., some items assessed quality but others assessed quantity) might have
inadvertently stacked the deck toward concluding that the quality of fathers’ parenting behaviors
was more predictive of child outcomes than the quantity of parenting time. One current review of
the literature repeats these same mistakes and thereby comes to the same unwarranted
conclusion; for example, these authors counted the question, “How often does father put the
child to bed?” as a measure of the quality of fathers’ parenting behaviors, rather than as a
measure of the number of overnights children spent with fathers.5
Another important aspect of Amato and Gilbreth’s review is that it reflected the general
tendencies at the time to overlook the connection between the amount of parenting time and the
security of father-child relationships, and to overlook the security of father-child relationships as
an important outcome variable on a par with the more traditional outcome variables such as
depression, aggression, and school performance. These shortcomings have persisted in some
quarters despite increasing evidence (discussed below) to the contrary. Part of the reason, I
believe, is a lack of understanding of what parenting time means to the child.
We hypothesized that spending time doing things together such as working on projects, or
going to the movies, whether the parent also engages in the traditional high-quality parenting
behaviors during that time or not, communicates to the child that he or she is important.6 We
derived this hypothesis from open-ended interviews with about 400 adolescents in both intact
and non-intact families about their relationships with each of their resident and nonresident
parents, in which they spontaneously talked about, among other things, whether their parents
spend enough time with them.7 Later, using standardized measures in state-of-the-art longitudinal
analyses, we confirmed that the more time each parent in two-parent households spent with the
adolescent child in daily activities – we asked about playing indoor and outdoor games, going to
movies and sporting events, shopping, and cooking -- the more secure the child felt one to two
years later that he or she mattered to that parent.8 For divorced fathers, this requires having
enough parenting time to be able to spend enough time doing things together to protect children
from doubts about how much they matter.
The findings of many studies in many Western countries now clearly show that more
parenting time is related to greater divorced father-child relationship security.9 For example,
Figure 1 shows the relation we found in a sample of 1,030 college students from divorced
families.10 The horizontal axis shows parenting time with father during childhood, and the
vertical axis shows emotional security with father years later in young adulthood. The vertical
line divides parenting time at 13 to 15 days per "month" (i.e., 28 days). This represents equal
(50%) parenting time with each parent. On the left side of the vertical line, it is clear that young
adults’ current emotional security with their fathers improved with each increment, from 0% to
50%, of parenting time that they had spent with their fathers during childhood. Note that there is
no “plateau” short of equal parenting time that might indicate a minimum amount of parenting
necessary to ensure good father-child relationships. On the right side of the vertical line, from
50% to 100% time with fathers, are the few (N = 152) father-custody families, in which the
zigzags are not statistically reliable and represent random variation. Fabricius and Suh have
recently found the same thing for overnight parenting with the father during infancy (0 to 2 years
of age): Young adults’ emotional security in the father-child relationship improved with each
increment of overnights with fathers during infancy from no overnights with fathers to equal
overnights with each parent.11 Importantly, neither of these studies show any deterioration of the
mother-child relationship from 0% to 50% parenting time with fathers; in fact, Fabricius and Suh
found some improvement in mother-child relationships when fathers had overnight parenting
time, perhaps because it helped relieve some of the stress of being a full-time, single mother.12
-------------------------------
Insert Figure 1 about here
--------------------------------
The potential public health benefits to society of improving divorced father-child
relationship security could be substantial. An estimated 35% of children of divorce have poorer
relationships with their fathers in adulthood than children from intact families, after controlling
for 40 divorce-predisposing factors.13 Amato and Gilbreth’s review of studies revealed that
children who were less close to their divorced fathers had worse behavioral adjustment, worse
emotional adjustment, and lower school achievement.14 Evidence not only from the divorce
literature, but also from the general health literature going back 50 years shows that poor
relationships with either parent contribute in later life to “
consequent
accumulating
risk for
mental health disorders, major chronic diseases, and early mortality [emphasis added]".15
Weakened relationships with divorced fathers also manifest in less support given and received in
the form of intergenerational transfers of time and money.16 Our latest study in this line of work
found that adolescents’ perceptions of how much they mattered to their fathers were actually
more important than their perceptions of how much they mattered to their mothers for predicting
their later mental health.17
Soon after Amato and Gilbreth, other reviews of the literature began appearing that
rightly sought out studies that measured the amount of parenting time rather than the frequency
of visitation.18 In contrast to the conclusion of Amato and Gilbreth, these reviews found that the
quantity of parenting time was associated with a wide range of beneficial child outcomes in
addition to improved father-child relationships, including academic success, mental health,
behavioral adjustment, and self-esteem. However, the authors of these new reviews used
definitions of shared parenting to determine how many studies found that children with at least a
certain minimum amount of parenting time with fathers had better outcomes than children with
less than that amount of parenting time. The first was Bausserman, who located 25 studies and
used a minimum cutoff of 25% parenting time with fathers.19 Nielsen initially found 40 studies,
and later found an additional 20 studies, both times using a cutoff of 35% time with fathers.20
These definitions of shared parenting grouped together studies that differed widely in the average
amounts of parenting time with fathers, and as a result, the findings do not tell us whether there
are additional benefits associated with levels of parenting time above the cutoffs. Only one
review (of 19 studies) compared sole physical custody to two cutoffs for joint physical custody;
i.e., 30% to 35% parenting time with fathers, versus 40% to 50%.21 The children who had almost
equal parenting time (40% to 50%) had better behavioral adjustment (e.g., aggressiveness,
conduct problems) and social adjustment (e.g., social skills, social acceptance) than children in
sole physical custody, whereas those with 30% to 35% parenting time did not. All the authors of
these reviews used definitions of shared parenting to simply group studies together for
comparison purposes, but these reviews inadvertently lend themselves to use by advocates
calling for legal presumptions for shared parenting defined as at least 35% parenting time with
fathers.
The Meaning of Parent Conflict. Relatively few studies of parenting time also examine
levels of parent conflict. That is unfortunate because parent conflict is known to harm children,
and there is long-standing concern among researchers22 and policy makers about whether more
parenting time with fathers in high conflict families would expose children to more harm from
conflict.
It is important to understand how and why parent conflict works to harm children. The
best theory we have is Emotional Security Theory (EST).23 The central tenet of EST is that parent
conflict, in intact as well as in divorced families, can threaten children’s sense of security that
their parents will be able and willing to continue to take care of them. Some children can have
confidence that the conflict will be managed and regulated by the parents, or otherwise will not
threaten their continued care. Other children, in response to parent conflict, experience emotional
insecurity about the continued physical and emotional availability of their parents. That
emotional insecurity is manifested in three ways: (a) distress in response to episodes of parent
conflict; (b) attempts to regulate their exposure to the conflict in various ways such as freezing,
intervening, or ingratiating themselves; and (c) negative expectations that the conflict will cause
their parents to withdraw and will undermine family stability. Negative expectations can be
revealed when children are asked to finish story stems about parents in conflict; as one child
narrated, “The Mom and Dad keep blaming each other. ‘You made the mess.’ ‘No, you did.’
Then Dad leaves the house.”24
In young children from divorced families, these negative expectations about parent
conflict take the form of worries about the continuity of their living arrangements and the
stability of their relationships with parents. Such worries are evocatively captured by the
following items on the Fear of Abandonment subscale of the Children’s Beliefs about Parental
Divorce Scale25: “I worry that my parents will want to live without me;” “It’s possible that my
parents will never want to see me again;” “I worry that I will be left all alone;” “I think that one
day I might have to live with a friend or relative.” In young adults from divorced families,
lingering insecurity about parent conflict is still manifested in the same three ways identified by
EST: (a) memories of the distress of experiencing parental conflict; (b) lingering feelings of self-
blame in having failed to reduce the conflict and prevent the divorce; and (c) negative
expectations that continuing conflict will undermine their parents’ ability to cooperate in helping
them meet the challenges of young adulthood. This insecurity about parent conflict is captured
by four of the six subscales of the Painful Feelings About Divorce Scale (PFAD)26: Loss and
Abandonment (e.g., “I had a harder childhood than most people.” “I missed not having my father
around.”), Self-Blame (e.g., “I wish I had tried harder to keep my parents together.”), Seeing Life
Through the Filter of Divorce (e.g., “I worry about big events when both my parents will have to
come.” “My parents’ divorce still causes struggles for me.”), and Acceptance of Parental Divorce
(e.g., “My parents did not eventually seem happier after they separated.”)
Fabricius and Luecken studied college students and found that more parent conflict
around the time of the divorce predicted more insecurity about parent conflict, as measured by
the PFAD, years later in young adulthood, which in turn predicted worse current stress-related
physical health.27 However, more parenting time with fathers mitigated the harm from parent
conflict. Specifically, more parenting time with fathers during childhood predicted greater
emotional security of father-child relationships in young adulthood, which in turn predicted
better stress-related physical health. Both findings are consistent with EST, which holds that the
child’s emotional security in parent-child relationships is distinct from the child’s emotional
security about parent conflict, and that each contributes to the child’s well-being.
Importantly, Fabricius and Luecken found no indication that more parenting time in the
high conflict families resulted in more insecurity about conflict. Mahrer, O’Hara, Sandler, and
Wolchik recently reviewed the small group of studies of parenting time and parent conflict.28
They concluded that the findings are mixed29, and that more research is needed to ascertain
whether more parenting time with fathers in high conflict families exposes children to more harm
from parent conflict. The mixed findings might be due to older studies having too few children in
high-conflict families with equal parenting time. The mixed findings might also be due to the use
of analytical methods that were not designed to detect complex relations between parenting time
and insecurity about parent conflict. Consequently, I re-analyzed the Fabricius and Luecken data
to look for complex effects of parenting time in high conflict families.
Fabricius and Luecken assessed parenting time with the question, “Between the time your
parents got divorced and now, which of the following best describes your living arrangements
with each of them?” The response options were five verbal categories (from lived entirely with
mother and saw father minimally or not at all, to lived equal amounts of time with each parent)
that have the following approximate yearly equivalencies of proportion of parenting time with
father: 5%, 15%, 25%, 35%, and 45%, respectively.30 Among the approximately 200 college
student participants who provided complete data, the percentages in each of the categories of
parenting time were 22%, 25%, 22%, 17%, and 15%, respectively.
Results of the re-analysis showed that, in low-conflict families, the quality of father-child
relationships improved with increased parenting time, similar to Figure 1. In high-conflict
families, relationships tended to be worse overall than in low-conflict families, reflecting the
typical finding that more parent conflict is associated with poorer father-child relationships.31
Nevertheless, father-child relationships in high-conflict families also improved with increased
parenting time, but only up to 25% time, after which they leveled off. Thus, there was no
evidence that more parenting time in high-conflict families was harmful to long-term father-child
relationships.
Children’s insecurity about parent conflict in low-conflict families did not increase with
increased parenting time. In high-conflict families, insecurity spiked significantly from 25% to
35% parenting time, and at 35% it was significantly greater in high-conflict families than in low-
conflict families. However, at essentially equal parenting time (45%), insecurity about parent
conflict was not greater in high-conflict families than in low-conflict families.
The same pattern was evident for one of the two standardized measures that Fabricius and
Luecken used to assess the young adults’ stress-related physical health. This was the somatic
symptoms scale (e.g., headaches, dizziness, chest pains, nausea). In low-conflict families,
somatic symptoms did not increase with increased parenting time. In high-conflict families,
somatic symptoms spiked significantly from 25% to 35% parenting time, and at 35% were
significantly greater in high-conflict families than in low-conflict families. However, at
essentially equal parenting time (45%), somatic symptoms were not greater in high-conflict
families than in low-conflict families. For the other measure (i.e., global health rating), the
parenting time patterns were not different for high-conflict versus low-conflict families.
These new analyses revealed that, as some have feared, increasing parenting time with
fathers in high-conflict families does not appear to have the same beneficial effects as it does in
low- conflict families. However, the most insecurity about parent conflict, and the most somatic
symptoms both occurred at 35% parenting time not at equal parenting time (45%). EST, when
applied to the context of children’s living arrangements after divorce, provides a ready
explanation of these findings. The central tenet of EST, that parent conflict can threaten the
child’s sense of security about the parents’ continued support, suggests that when parenting time
is low, the father’s potential withdrawal in response to parent conflict threatens the child with
relatively little change in circumstances because the child already spends little time with the
father. At 35% parenting time, however, the change in circumstance would be quite substantial;
furthermore, insecurity about the father’s continued involvement can be heightened because
there are still long periods when the child is not at the father’s home. In contrast, at equal
parenting time, while the change in circumstance would be greater than at 35% time, there is less
room for insecurity about the father’s commitment to continued presence because it is
concretized in his provision of an equal home for the child. Thus, equal parenting time, in and of
itself, likely carries meaning to protect the child against insecurity about parent conflict.
Summary and Policy Implications. The effects of divorce on children are largely due to
how much the divorce threatens their emotional security. Several lines of research suggest that
reduced parenting time with fathers threatens emotional security by preventing children from
having sufficient daily interactions to reassure them that they matter to their fathers. The
correlational findings of many studies show that more parenting time with fathers up to and
including equal parenting time is associated with improved emotional security in the father-child
relationship. None of these studies found that mother-child relationship security decreased with
increasing parenting time with fathers. This means that the children of divorce with the best
long-term relationships with both parents are those who had equal parenting time.
High levels of parent conflict pose a different threat to emotional security. Children fear
that conflict will cause parents who might otherwise be supportive and responsive to become
emotionally and physically unavailable, and unable to cooperate to meet their needs. The few
studies are mixed regarding whether more parenting time with fathers in high conflict families is
harmful for children. New analyses designed to detect complex relations between parenting time
and conflict showed that in low conflict families, there was no indication that more parenting
time was harmful. In high conflict families, both insecurity about parent conflict and stress-
related somatic symptoms spiked at 35% parenting time with fathers, and were higher than in
low conflict families at 35% time but not at equal parenting time. Equal parenting time appears
to protect children from insecurity about parent conflict. This evidence has only recently become
available because only recently have we been able to study larger samples of high conflict
families with equal parenting.
Secure parent-child relationships and security about parent conflict are both important
aspects of children’s well-being, and both also contribute to better stress-related physical and
mental health. The policy implication seems clear in low conflict families--namely, that equal
parenting time is generally best for the children. In high conflict families, the little evidence we
have suggests that security in relationships with fathers might plateau at 25% parenting time,
while at 35% parenting time children might have more distress about parent conflict and somatic
symptoms. Strictly speaking then, in high conflict families either 25% or equal parenting time
might seem best; however, attempting to protect children from insecurity about parent conflict by
giving them equal parenting time with their parents is preferable to giving them minimal (25%)
parenting time with their fathers. For one reason, 25% parenting time is equivalent to the
traditional standard of every other weekend throughout the calendar year, which is no longer the
norm in the current cultural climate (see below).
Evidence for Causality of Parenting Time.
There is considerable turmoil in both the research literature and policy circles concerning
the potential effects of legislation establishing a presumption in favor of equal parenting time.32
The issue that causes legitimate concern is the difficulty of drawing policy implications from the
current correlational research based on families who selected into shared parenting under legal
regimes without such presumptions. The worry is that better parents are selected into having
more parenting time, so that the observed benefits are due to the type of parents rather than the
amount of parenting time. While experimental studies on parenting time cannot be conducted,
there are several reasons and lines of evidence to suggest that selection plays a minimal role in
the observed benefits and consequently that parenting time plays a causal role.
The first reason is that better fathers are not able to choose to have more parenting time.
In the classic Stanford Child Custody Study in California, Maccoby and Mnookin reported that
about a third of fathers wanted joint physical custody, and another third wanted primary physical
custody.33 In Arizona, Fabricius and Hall found that similar proportions of college students
reported that their fathers had wanted equal or nearly equal living arrangements, or to be their
primary residential parent.34 Yet in both studies, children’s living arrangements were twice as
likely to reflect the mothers' than the fathers' preferences. The amount of parenting time fathers
have under current legal regimes is influenced by many factors, including the mother’s
preferences, the parents’ perceptions of general maternal bias in the courts, advice from attorneys
about likely outcomes, parents’ financial resources to pursue their cases, differences in
effectiveness of attorneys in arguing their clients’ cases under the adversarial system, and
individual biases among custody evaluators and judges.35 This “funneling” process represents a
different dynamic than the typical self-selection scenario in which people choose to engage or
not in a certain behavior, and could in fact constitute a ‘natural experiment’ in which better
fathers end up with considerably different amounts of parenting time.36
The second reason that parenting time is likely to play a causal role in benefits to the
father-child relationship is that there is a “dose-response” pattern, which means that even small
increases in parenting time across the range from 0% to 50% are significantly associated with
increases in father-child relationship security.37 Fathers are highly unlikely to have been funneled
into increasing amounts of parenting time according to their increasing potential to be good
fathers; thus, selection is an unlikely explanation for this dose-response pattern.
The third reason is that the beneficial effects of shared parenting do not seem to be due to
better, more cooperative parents agreeing between themselves to share parenting time. We
examined the publicly available data from the Stanford Child Custody Study 38 and found that the
great majority of parents with shared parenting had to accept it after mediation, custody
evaluation, trial, or judicial imposition.39 Nevertheless, those with shared parenting time had the
most well-adjusted children years later. In a recent study, we asked parents to report whether they
had agreed about overnight parenting time when their children were 0 to 2 years of age, or
whether they disagreed (i.e., “We never came to agreement, one of us got what he or she wanted
mostly because the other one gave in,” or “The final decision came out of either mediation,
custody evaluation, attorney-led bargaining, or court hearing.”).40 If the children had equal
overnights with each parent by the time they were 2 years old, it did not matter whether their
parents had agreed to it or not; the two groups had equally good relationships with their fathers
as well as with their mothers, and better relationships than those who had had fewer overnights.
These findings could also constitute a different type of natural experiment, not one in which
better fathers were distributed across different amounts of parenting time, but one in which
courts imposed equal parenting over mothers’ objections; in both cases, the findings suggest that
greater emotional security in parent-child relationships was due to the greater amounts of
parenting time with fathers.
The fourth reason comes from studies of parental relocation after divorce. To the extent
relocation is caused by external circumstances such as job opportunities, health, extended family
factors, etc. that are not related to parenting ability, it could constitute another type of natural
experiment. Ours are the only empirical studies of relocation, and they revealed no positive
outcomes associated with parental relocation.41 Instead, compared to non-relocating families,
relocation of more than an hour’s drive from the original family home was associated not only
with long-term harm to children’s emotional security with parents and their emotional security
about parent conflict, but also with more anxiety, depression, aggression, delinquency,
involvement with the juvenile justice system, associations with delinquent peers, and drug use.
These associations held after controlling for parent conflict, domestic violence, and mothers’
family income.42 That is important because it eliminates the alternate explanation that conflict,
violence, or financial strain caused both the relocation and the poor child outcomes. In addition,
there were similar effects in the two most frequent cases – when the custodial mother relocated
with the child away from the father’s home, and when the non-custodial father relocated without
the child away from the mother’s home -- which indicates that the negative outcomes were not
due to the child having to adjust to a new home environment, but rather to the separation of the
child from the father.43 When the fathers relocated, children were older at the time of the divorce
and thus spent fewer years living apart than when the mothers relocated; we controlled for those
factors as well, and still found similar effects for mother- and father-relocation.44 Our relocation
studies differed in methodologies and populations sampled, but nevertheless revealed similar
results. Thus, as a set of studies, they provide a strong conceptual replication of the finding that
separation of the child from the father by more than an hour’s drive, and the reduced parenting
time that necessarily follows, is associated with a wide range of harmful consequences to the
child.
Cultural Norms of Parenting Roles after Parental Separation.
Custody policies are value-laden. Their moral legitimacy comes from their connection to
the prevailing, underlying cultural norms about gender roles and parenting; thus, they necessarily
undergo fundamental historical change more so than other laws.45 In connection to the long-term
historical trend toward gender equality and involvement of fathers in child care, there is now
consistent evidence of a strong public consensus that equal parenting time is best for children.
The first indication of this consensus was found by Fabricius and Hall, who asked college
students, ''What do you feel is the best living arrangement for children after divorce?".46
Regardless of how the question was phrased over the course of several semesters, whether
students were male or female, or from divorced or intact families, approximately 70% to 80%
answered, "equal time".47 Subsequent surveys have found that large majorities favor equal
parenting time in all the locales and among all the demographic groups in the United States and
Canada in which this question has been asked, and across several variations in question format,
including variations that ask respondents to consider differences in how much pre-divorce child
care each parent provided, and differences in parent conflict. For example, we presented
hypothetical cases to a large representative sample of Arizona adults, in which participants were
asked how they would award parenting time if they were the judge.48 Participants most
commonly awarded equal parenting time even when the hypothetical case stated that one parent
had provided the most child care and when there was high mutual parent conflict. There were no
significant differences by gender, age, education, income, political outlook, whether the
respondents themselves were currently married, had ever divorced, had children, or had paid or
received child support.
This strong cultural norm that equal parenting time is best for children would by itself
provide sufficient justification that a legal presumption for equal parenting time is in children's
best interests. The reason is that in this cultural milieu, those children who received the old
standard, every-other-weekend visitation would be placed in the position of comparing
themselves to their peers who had equal parenting time and searching for an explanation for why
they are different. As a result, many children would unnecessarily worry that their own fathers’
limited post-divorce involvement with them was due to their fathers' deficiencies, or their
fathers’ lack of caring, or their own unworthiness. A legal presumption for equal parenting time
is in children’s best interest because it would protect them from this source of emotional
insecurity.
Evaluation of a Policy for Equal Parenting Time.
Lawmakers are often counseled to reject a presumption of equal parenting time, under the
assumption that it would impose a one-size-fits-all rule and prevent judges from using discretion
in individual cases to protect children. Fortunately, we have a test case to allow us to examine
whether a presumption constrains judicial discretion and puts children at risk. Just such a law has
been in operation in Arizona since 2013, and an initial state-wide evaluation of the law has been
completed.49
The landmark reform of Arizona’s child custody statute was a large, team effort by
judges, attorneys, court staff, and mental health professionals who provide mediation and
evaluation services to parents, domestic violence experts, legislators, lay mothers and fathers,
and one academic researcher (Fabricius). The legislative process began several years earlier with
education about the new research findings on the benefits associated with shared parenting time,
delivered by Fabricius at the annual workshops and training sessions sponsored by the state Bar
Association and the state chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Surveys
at the last of these sessions in 2008 and 2010 showed that judges were strongly in favor of equal
parenting time for fit parents.
The new statute was carefully worded to promote equal parenting time while still
requiring judges to weigh the traditional children’s best interest factors, such as parental mental
health, that might disqualify either parent. The statute states at §25-103(B): “Absent evidence to
the contrary, it is in a child's best interest to have substantial, frequent, meaningful and
continuing parenting time with both parents;” and at (C): “A court shall apply the provisions of
this title in a manner that is consistent with this section.” It further states at §25-403.02(B):
“Consistent with children’s best interests, the court shall adopt a parenting plan that maximizes
[both parents’] respective parenting time.” The traditional preference for the parent who had
provided primary caretaking was removed and replaced at §25-403(A.1) with language directing
courts to consider instead “the past, present and potential future relationship between the parent
and the child.” Thus, without citing percentages of parenting time, the law puts the focus on
providing the child with as close to equal parenting time with both parents as possible for that
family.
The evaluation study50 consisted of a survey sent to all the state conciliation court staff
(response rate = 82%), family court judges (response rate = 40%), private mental health
providers (response rate = 50%), and private attorneys (response rate = 11%), asking for their
perceptions of how the law is working. All four groups agreed that the courts are interpreting and
applying the law as a presumption for equal parenting time, and that as a result, fit fathers are
highly likely to have their petitions for equal parenting time awarded. This law thus provides a
strong test case of whether a parenting time presumption constrains judicial discretion or exposes
children to harm.
The findings indicate that the Arizona law does neither. On average, the four groups of
family law professionals rated the law positively overall, and positively in terms of children’s
best interests. The survey also allowed participants to express their own ideas about what is good
and bad about the law. Judges seldom said anything about their discretion to individualize
parenting time being constrained by the law. On the contrary, they often said that they had to
correct some parents’ misunderstanding that the law was a one-size-fits-all rule. Thus, Arizonans
have not encountered a trade-off between equal parenting time and judicial discretion as a result
of courts being directed to try to maximize children’s time with both parents.
The four groups of family law professionals reported small increases after the law in
allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, and substance abuse, which indicates that the law
does not dissuade parents from raising these concerns, but they reported essentially no changes
in parent conflict or legal conflict leading up to the final decree. There was some reported
increase in post-decree filings, most likely reflecting requests to have older decrees re-
adjudicated under the new law. Finally, there were two subgroups that did not evaluate the law
positively. About half of the attorneys and one-third of the mental health providers evaluated the
law negatively. It is not clear why they differed from the rest of their colleagues. The mental
health providers who evaluated the law negatively had practiced for fewer years than their
colleagues who evaluated it positively, but they did not differ by sex. The two sub-groups of
attorneys did not differ by sex or number of years in practice.
United States Statutes Regarding Presumptions of Equal Parenting Time.
In addition to Arizona, just three other states have statutes with language stating a
presumption for equal or maximized parenting time in a final decree. Most recently, in 2018,
Kentucky amended its statutory provision governing custody following divorce, K.RS. §
403.270, to provide that “there shall be a presumption, rebuttable by a preponderance of
evidence, that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interest of the child.”
In 2007, Wisconsin enacted Code Section 767.41 (4)(a)(2) providing that courts “shall set a
placement schedule that maximizes the amount of time the child may spend with each parent,
taking into account geographic separation and accommodations for different households.”
However, the issue of equal parenting time in Wisconsin still seems to be unresolved because the
2018 summer legislative leadership unanimously approved a bi-partisan Legislative Council
Study Committee on Child Placement and Support, the scope of which states that it “may
consider alternatives to current law concerning physical placement, including a rebuttable
presumption that equal placement is in the child’s best interest.” Since 1994, Louisiana Civil
Code Article 132 has dictated that courts must award “joint custody” to divorcing parents unless
they agree otherwise or unless one parent shows by clear and convincing evidence that having
sole custody would be in a child’s best interests, and a subsequently enacted statutory provision,
LSA-R.S. 9:335(A)(2)(b), clarifies that when joint custody is ordered, “to the extent it is feasible
and in the best interest of the child, physical custody of the children should be shared equally.”
These Louisiana statutes preceded the modern research on shared parenting time and might have
been enacted in response to earlier studies.51 One other state, Alaska, has a statutory presumption
of equal parenting time, but only for temporary orders.
Five other states’ statutes include a presumption regarding parenting time but fall short of
presuming equal parenting time. Nevada, in Code sections 125C.0015 and 125C.0035, presumes
“joint physical custody” at the temporary and final decrees but does not define it. Arkansas, in
Code section 9-13-101 “favors,” but does not presume, an award of “joint custody,” which is
defined as reasonably equal division of time between the parents. New Mexico’s Code §40-4-9.1
presumes “joint physical custody” at the temporary orders stage, but states that it does not imply
equal parenting time. The District of Columbia and Idaho both presume “joint custody” but
define it as “frequent and continuing contact.”52
Recent Canadian Case Law under the Maximum Contact Principle in Section 16(10) of the
Divorce Act.
Custody policy in Canada is established at the national level, and there is currently no
statutory presumption for equal parenting time. There is something called the maximum contact
principle in section 16(10) of the Divorce Act, but it is universally considered to not be a
presumption in favor
of
shared parenting. Nevertheless, case law in Can ada has evolved
toward equal
parenting time. These cases are the decisions of individual trial judges and
appellate courts making their own use of the maximum-contact principle
and are not yet well-
known. The Ontario cases have been reviewed by others
.
53
I provide a brief, selective summary
below.
Equal parenting time presupposes some arrangement for parents to share in decision-
making about the child’s life (sometimes called joint legal custody).
Courts were traditionally
reluctant to order shared decision-making in high conflict cases
, but that has been changing
since t
he Ontario Court of Appeal cases of Kaplanis v. Kaplanis (2005)
and
Ladisa v. Ladisa
(2005) affirmed that shared decision-making could be ordered to preserve each parent’s
relationship with the child. Mostly since 2005, 70 cases have used that principle to order shared
decision-making despite evidence of parent conflict and failure to communicate and cooperate.
For example, in Brook v. Brook (2006), Justice Quinn noted that, “The quest for joint [legal]
custody must not be restricted to those who can pass the Ozzie-and-Harriet test.” These cases are
notable for the careful and nuanced consideration judges gave to the nature, extent, history, and
motivation for the conflict, and for creative, individually-tailored provisions to avoid future
conflict over decisions about the child’s life.
At least 34 cases have used the maximum contact principle to order equal parenting time.
For example, the
Saskatchewan
Court of Appeal in Ackerman v. Ackerman (2014) noted that,
although there was no presumption in favor
of
shared parenting by the maximum contact
principle, “maximum contact between a child and each of his or her parents is
desirable,” and
upheld the
trial
judge's alternating-week equal
parenting time
order
.
In Fraser v. Fraser (2016), Justice McGee noted, “Ongoing
relationships
with
each of one's parents is a right. When
a
parent argues for unequal
parenting
time,
the onus is on that parent to
demonstrate
why
the
proposed schedule
is in the
child’s best
interests.”
She found that, given t he complexity of the family members’
lives
with t
hree
young, active children, a
n
alternating-week schedule would reduce the
amount of transitions, maximize contact with
both
parents, and ensure that each
parent took responsibility for homework. Each
parent
would also take the children to
activities while in the other parent's care
to
remedy the court's concern that seven
days would be too long to be away from a parent. This provided the additional
benefit of dividing up transportation when
the
children had conflicting schedules.
In C. (M.) v. C. (T.) (2010), the court applied the maximum contact principle to order
equal parenting time on a three-day rotating basis despite a high level of parent conflict. Justice
Walsh eloquently expressed the psychological theories and research findings about emotional
security that I have described above:
I do not do this in an attempt to be fair to the parents, but rather because it
will allow
for
more
meaningful interaction
between the
children
and both
parents,
particularly the
father. It will, in my
opinion,
be better for the
children's
mental,
emotional
and
physical
health; reduce the
disruption
in
the
children's
sense of
continuity;
foster the
love, affection
and ties that
exist between not only the
children
and parents, but the
children
with the
paternal
grandmother
and with the extended families of both parents; and will
provide the
children
with a secure
environment
In Gibney v.
Conahan
(2011), Associate Chief Justice O'Neil of the Nova Scotia
Supreme Court noted the influence of parenting research reported in the media and the
prevailing cultural norms about gender roles and parenting:
Much is written and appears in popular magazines, on radio and TV about the
need for
children
to have the opportunity to bond with both parents. The
litigants herein espouse this view. They do not agree on how much time Mr.
Conahan requires to achieve and maintain a loving
and
deep relationship with
the children and they with him. Ms. Gibney proposes that he parent six
overnights every four weeks and five hours on four evenings over this period.
In keeping with the
changing
role of women in the
work
place and men in
the
household,
as well as an
increased
acceptance of the
parenting
ability
of men, the law has evolved. Age-old
stereotypes
about the role of men
and
women as parents are slowly dissipating.
The court was satisfied that each parent would maximize the parenting
opportunity afforded to them, and that equal parenting time would allow continuity
with friends and school and time with extended family members. The court found that a
weekly equal parenting time schedule with a mid-week visit for the other parent was in
the children's best interests
.
Conclusions
From all the perspectives examined, the evidence suggests that a legal presumption
for equal parenting time is in childrens best interests. First, the correlational research reveals
that childrens emotional security is enhanced at equal parenting time in both low- and high-
conflict families. Second, the following lines of argument converge to suggest that more
parenting time with fathers actually causes enhanced emotional security in children: Good
fathers are not able to self-select into having more parenting time; the relation between
parenting time and security of father-child relationships shows a dose-response pattern;
benefits are found when courts impose equal parenting time; and poor child-welfare outcomes
result when relocation separates fathers from children. Third, cultural norms about parenting
roles have changed in the last generation, and this is reflected in public endorsement of equal
parenting time. Fourth, the 2013 equal parenting law in Arizona has been evaluated positively
by the state’s family law professionals. Finally, Canadian case law, reflecting changed cultural
norms rather than any national legislative change, has evolved to often order equal parenting
time over one parents objections even in cases of high parent conflict, accompanied by well-
reasoned judicial opinions about how that is in children’s best interests.
The problem with not having a legal presumption of equal parenting time is that many
parents are likely to make parenting time decisions under the impression that the family courts
are biased toward primary parenting time for mothers. This impression of maternal bias was
universally held in Arizona before the law was passed.54 The mere impression of bias
encourages parents to settle out of court for less parenting time with fathers, and
becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.55
As Joan Kelly has pointed out, the current child custody statutes were written in the
absence of evidence of how well they promoted children’s well-being.56 The evidence that is
now available is compelling that failure to enact presumptions of equal parenting time risks
unnecessary harm to children’s emotional security with their parents, and consequently
unnecessary harm to public health in the form of long-term stress-related mental and physical
health problems among children of divorce.
Bibliography
Adamsons, Kari, and Johnson, Sara K. “An Updated and Expanded Meta-Analysis of
Nonresident Fathering and Child Well-Being.” Journal of Family Psychology 27, no. 4
(2013): 589-599.
Amato, Paul R. “Reconciling Divergent Perspectives: Judith Wallerstein, Quantitative Family
Research, and Children of Divorce.” Family Relations 52, no. 4 (2003): 332-339.
Amato, Paul R. and Gilbreth, Joan G. “Nonresident Fathers and Children’s Well-Being: A Meta-
Analysis.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61, no. 3 (1999): 557-573.
Amato, Paul R., Meyers, Catherine E., and Emery, Robert E. “Changes in Nonresident Father-
Child Contact from 1976 to 2002.” Family Relations 58, no. 1 (2009): 41-53.
Argys, Laura M., Peters, Elizabeth, Cook, Steven, Garasky, Steven, Nepomnyaschy, Lenna, and
Sorensen, Elaine. “Measuring Contact Between Children and Nonresident Fathers.” In
Handbook of Measurement Issues in Family Research, edited by Sandra L. Hofferth and
Lynne M. Casper, 375-398. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2006.
Baude, Amandine, Pearson, Jessica, and Drapeau, Sylvie. “Child Adjustment in Joint Physical
Custody Versus Sole Custody: A Meta-Analytic Review.” Journal of Divorce and
Remarriage 57, no. 5 (July 2016): 338-360.
Bauserman, Robert. “Child Adjustment in Joint-Custody Versus Sole-Custody Arrangements: A
Meta-Analytic Review.” Journal of Family Psychology 16, no. 1 (2002): 91-102.
Davies, Patrick T. and Cummings, E. Mark. “Marital Conflict and Child Adjustment: An
Emotional Security Hypothesis.” Psychological Bulletin 116, no. 3 (1994): 387-411.
Davies, Patrick T. and Martin, Meredith J. “The Reformulation of Emotional Security Theory:
The Role of Children’s Social Defense in Developmental Psychopathology.”
Development and Psychopathology 25, no. 4 (2013): 1435-1454.
Fabricius, William V. “Listening to Children of Divorce: New Findings on Living Arrangements,
College Support and Relocation that Rebut Wallerstein, Lewis and Blakeslee (2000).”
Family Relations 52, no. 4 (October 2003): 385-396.
Fabricius, William V. and Hall, Jeff A. “Young Adults’ Perspectives on Divorce: Living
Arrangements.” Family and Conciliation Courts Review 38, no. 4 (October 2000): 446-
461.
Fabricius, William V. and Luecken, Linda J. “Post-Divorce Living Arrangements, Parent
Conflict, and Long-Term Physical Health Correlates for Children of Divorce.” Journal of
Family Psychology 21, no. 2 (June 2007): 195-205.
Fabricius, William V. and Suh, Go Woon. “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent
Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data.” Psychology,
Public Policy, and Law 23, no. 1 (2017): 68-84.
Fabricius, William V., Aaron, Michael, Akins, Faren R., Assini, John J., and McElroy, Tracy.
“What Happens When There is Presumptive 50/50 Parenting Time? An Evaluation of
Arizona’s New Child Custody Statute.” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 59, no. 5
(April 2018): 414-428.
Fabricius, William V., Braver, Sanford L., Diaz, Priscila, and Velez, Clorinda E. “Custody and
Parenting Time: Links to Family Relationsips and Well-Being after Divorce.” In The
Role of the Father in Child Development, edited by Michael E. Lamb, 201-240. New
York: Wiley, 2010.
Fabricius, William V., Sokol, Karina R., Diaz, Priscila, and Braver, Sanford L. “Parenting Time,
Parenting Conflict, Parent-Child Relationships, and Children’s Physical Health.” In
Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court, edited by Kathryn
Kuehnle and Leslie Drozd, 188-213. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Fabricius, William V., Sokol, Karina R., Diaz, Priscila, and Braver, Sanford L. “Father-Child
Relationships: The Missing Link Between Parenting Time and Children’s Mental and
Physical Health.” In Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court,
edited by Kathryn Kuehnle and Leslie Drozd, 74-84. New York: Oxford University Press,
2016.
Kelly, Joan B. “Children’s Living Arrangements Following Separation and Divorce: Insights
from Empirical and Clinical Research.” Family Process 46, no. 1 (2007): 35-52.
Laumann-Billings, Lisa and Emery, Robert E. “Distress Among Young Adults in Divorced
Families.” Journal of Family Psychology 14, no. 4 (2000): 671-687.
Maccoby, Eleanor E. and Mnookin, Robert H. Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of
Custody. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.
Nielsen, Linda. “Joint Versus Sole Physical Custody: Outcomes for Children Independent of
Family Income or Parental Conflict.” Journal of Child Custody 15, no. 1 (2018): 35-54.
Nielsen, Linda. “Shared Physical Custody: Summary of 40 Studies on Outcomes for Children.”
Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 55, no. 8 (November 2014): 613-635.
Repetti, Rena L., Taylor, Shelley E., Seeman, Teresa E. “Risky Families: Family
Social Environments and the Mental and Physical Health of Offspring.”
Psychological Bulletin 128, no. 2 (2002): 330-366.
Sandler, Irwin, Wolchik, Sharlene, Winslow, Emily B., Mahrer, Nicole E., Moran, John A., and
Weinstock, David. “Quality of Maternal and Paternal Parenting Following Separation and
Divorce.” In Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court, edited
by Leslie Drozd and Kathryn Kuehnle, 85-122. New York: Oxford University Press,
2012.
Warshak, Richard S. “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus
Report.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 20, no. 1 (2014): 46-67.
Notes
Fabricius, William, “Listening to Children of Divorce: New Findings on Living Arrangements,
College Support and Relocation that Rebut Wallerstein, Lewis and Blakeslee (2000).” Family
Relations 52, no. 4 (October 2003): 385-396; Fabricius, William V., Braver, Sanford L., Diaz,
Priscila, and Velez, Clorinda E. “Custody and Parenting Time: Links to Family Relationships
and Well-Being After Divorce” in The Role of the Father in Child Development, ed. Michael E.
Lamb (New York: Wiley), 201-240; Fabricius, William V., Sokol, Karina R., Diaz, Priscila, and
Braver, Sanford L. “Parenting Time, Parenting Conflict, Parent-Child Relationships, and
Children’s Physical Health” in Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family
Court, ed. Kathryn Kuehnle and Leslie Drozd (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012),
188-213; Fabricius, William V., Sokol, Karina R., Diaz, Priscila, and Braver, Sanford L.
“Father-Child Relationships: The Missing Link Between Parenting Time and Children’s Mental
and Physical Health” in Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court,
ed. Kathryn Kuehnle and Leslie Drozd (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 74-84.
2 Argys, Laura M., Peters, Elizabeth, Cook, Steven, Garasky, Steven, Nepomnyaschy, Lenna, and
Sorensen, Elaine. “Measuring Contact Between Children and Nonresident Fathers” in
Handbook of Measurement Issues in Family Research, ed. Sandra L. Hofferth and Lynne M.
Casper (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2006), 375-398; See also Amato, Paul R., Meyers, Catherine
E., and Emery, Robert E. “Changes in Nonresident Father-Child Contact from 1976 to 2002.”
Family Relations 58, no. 1 (2009): 41-53.
3 Amato, Paul R. and Gilbreth, Joan G. “Nonresident Fathers and Children’s Well-Being: A Meta-
Analysis.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61, no. 3 (1999): 557-573.
4 Fabricius, Braver, Diaz, & Velez, “Custody and Parenting Time”, 201-240; Fabricius, Sokol,
Diaz, & Braver, “Parenting Time”, 188-213; Fabricius, Sokol, Diaz, and Braver, “Father-Child
Relationships”, 74-84.
5 Adamsons, Kari, and Johnson, Sara K. “An Updated and Expanded Meta-Analysis of
Nonresident Fathering and Child Well-Being.” Journal of Family Psychology 27, no. 4 (2013):
589-599.
6 Fabricius, Braver, Diaz, & Velez, “Custody and Parenting Time”, 201-240.
7 Fabricius, Braver, Diaz, & Velez, “Custody and Parenting Time”, 201-240.
8 Stevenson, Matthew M., Fabricius, William V., Cookston, Jeffrey T., Parke, Ross D., Coltrane,
Scott, Braver, Sanford L., and Saenz, Delia S. “Marital Problems, Maternal Gatekeeping
Attitudes, and Father-Child Relationships in Adolescence.” Developmental Psychology 50, no.
4 (2014): 1208-1218.
9 For reviews of these studies, see Fabricius, Braver, Diaz, & Velez, “Custody and Parenting
Time”, 201-240.; Fabricius, Sokol, Diaz, & Braver, “Parenting Time”, Table 7.2; and Fabricius,
Sokol, Diaz, and Braver, “Father-Child Relationships”, Table 4.1.
10 Fabricius, Sokol, Diaz, & Braver, “Parenting Time”, 188-213.
11 Fabricius, William V. and Suh, Go Woon. “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent
Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data.” Psychology,
Public Policy, and Law 23, no. 1 (2017): 68-84.
12 Fabricius & Suh, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With
Fathers?”, 68-84.
13 Amato, Paul R. “Reconciling Divergent Perspectives: Judith Wallerstein, Quantitative Family
Research, and Children of Divorce.” Family Relations 52, no. 4 (2003): 332-339.
14 Amato & Gilbreth, “Nonresident Fathers and Children’s Well-Being”, 557-573.
15 Repetti, Rena L., Taylor, Shelley E., Seeman, Teresa E. “Risky Families: Family Social
Environments and the Mental and Physical Health of Offspring.” Psychological Bulletin 128,
no. 2 (2002): 330-366; See also Fabricius, Sokol, Diaz, & Braver, “Parenting Time”, 188-213;
See also Sandler, Wolchik, Mahrer, Moran, & Weinstock. “Quality of Maternal and Paternal
Parenting Following Separation and Divorce” in Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied
Research for the Family Court, ed. Leslie Drozd and Kathryn Kuehnle (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2012), 85-122.
16 Furstenberg, Frank, Hoffman, Saul D., and Shrestha, Laura. “The Effects of Divorce on
Intergenerational Transfers: New Evidence.” Demography 32, no. 3 (1995): 319-333; Lye,
Diane N., Klepinnger, Daniel H., Hyle, Patricia D., and Nelson, Anjanette. “Childhood Living
Arrangements and Adult Children’s Relations with Their Parents.” Demography 32, no. 2
(1995): 261-280.
17 Suh, Go Woon, Fabricius, William V., Stevenson, Matthew, Parke, Ross D., Cookston, Jeffrey
T., Braver, Sanford L., and Saenz, Delia S. “Effects of the Inter-Parental Relationship on
Adolescents’ Emotional Security and Adjustment: The Important Role of Fathers.”
Developmental Psychology 52, no. 10 (2016): 1666-1678.
18 Amato & Gilbreth, “Nonresident Fathers and Children’s Well-Being”, 557-573.
19 Bauserman, Robert. “Child Adjustment in Joint-Custody Versus Sole-Custody Arrangements:
A Meta-Analytic Review.” Journal of Family Psychology 16, no. 1 (2002): 91-102.
20 Nielsen, Linda. “Shared Physical Custody: Summary of 40 Studies on Outcomes for
Children.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 55, no. 8 (November 2014): 613-635; Nielsen,
Linda. “Joint Versus Sole Physical Custody: Outcomes for Children Independent of Family
Income or Parental Conflict.” Journal of Child Custody 15, no. 1 (2018): 35-54.
21 Baude, Amandine, Pearson, Jessica, and Drapeau, Sylvie. “Child Adjustment in Joint Physical
Custody Versus Sole Custody: A Meta-Analytic Review.” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage
57, no. 5 (July 2016): 338-360.
22 For example, Amato & Gilbreth, “Changes in Nonresident Father-Child Contact”, 41-53.
23 Davies, Patrick T. and Cummings, E. Mark. “Marital Conflict and Child Adjustment: An
Emotional Security Hypothesis.” Psychological Bulletin 116, no. 3 (1994): 387-411; Davies,
Patrick T. and Martin, Meredith J. “The Reformulation of Emotional Security Theory: The
Role of Children’s Social Defense in Developmental Psychopathology.” Development and
Psychopathology 25, no. 4 (2013): 1435-1454.
24 Cummings, E. Mark and Davies, Patrick T. “Effects of Marital Conflict on Children: Recent
Advances and Emerging Themes in Process-Oriented Research.” Journal of Child Psychology
and Psychiatry 43, no. 1 (January 2002): 31-63.
25 Kurdek, Lawrence A. and Berg, Berthold. “Children’s Beliefs About Parental Divorce Scale:
Psychometric Characteristics and Concurrent Validity.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology 55, no. 5 (1987): 712-718.
26 Laumann-Billings, Lisa and Emery, Robert E. “Distress Among Young Adults in Divorced
Families.” Journal of Family Psychology 14, no. 4 (2000): 671-687.
27 Fabricius, William V. and Luecken, Linda J. “Post-Divorce Living Arrangements, Parent
Conflict, and Long-Term Physical Health Correlates for Children of Divorce.” Journal of
Family Psychology 21, no. 2 (June 2007): 195-205.
28 Mahrer, Nicole E., O’Hara, Karey, Sandler, Irwin N., and Wolchik, Sharlene A. “Does Shared
Parenting Help or Hurt Children in High Conflict Divorced Families?” Journal of Divorce &
Remarriage 59, no. 4 (May 2018): 324-347.
29 Reviews in Fabricius, Braver, Diaz, & Velez, “Custody and Parenting Time” and Fabricius,
Sokol, Diaz, & Braver, “Parenting Time” agree.
30 See Fabricius, Braver, Diaz, & Velez, “Custody and Parenting Time”, Table 7.1.
31 For example, Stevenson, Fabricius, Cookston, Parke, Coltrone, Braver, & Saenz, “Marital
Problems”, 1208-1218.
32 For example, Braver, Sanford L. “The Costs and Pitfalls of Individualizing Decisions and
Incentivizing Conflict: A Comment on AFCC’s Think Tank Report on Shared Parenting.”
Family Court Review 52, no. 2 (April 2014): 175-180; Lamb, Michael E. “A Wasted
Opportunity to Engage With The Literature on the Implications of Attachment Research for
Family Court Professionals.” Family Court Review 50, no. 3 (July 2012): 481-485; Pruett,
Marsha K, and DiFonzo, J. Herbie. “AFCC Think Tank Final Report. Closing the Gap:
Research, Policy, Practice, and Shared Parenting.” Family Court Review 52, no. 2 (April 2014):
152-174; and Warshak, Richard S. “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A
Consensus Report.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 20, no. 1 (2014): 46-67.
33 Maccoby, Eleanor E. and Mnookin, Robert H. Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas
of Custody (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992).
34 Fabricius, William V. and Hall, Jeff A. “Young Adults’ Perspectives on Divorce: Living
Arrangements.” Family and Conciliation Courts Review 38, no. 4 (October 2000): 446-461.
35 Paisley, Kay and Braver, Sanford L. “Measuring Father Involvement in Divorced, Nonresident
Fathers” in Conceptualizing and Measuring Father Involvement, ed. Randal D. Day and
Michael E. Lamb (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2003), 217-240.
36 Fabricius, Braver, Diaz, & Velez, “Custody and Parenting Time”, 201-240.
37 Fabricius, Sokol, Diaz, & Braver, “Parenting Time”, 188-213.
38 Maccoby & Mnookin, Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody.
39 Fabricius, Sokol, Diaz, & Braver, “Parenting Time”, 188-213.
40 Fabricius & Suh, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With
Fathers?”, 68-84.
41 Braver, Sanford L., Ellman, Ira M., Vortuba, Ashley M., and Fabricius, William V. “Lay
Judgments About Child Custody After Divorce.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 17, no. 2
(2011): 212-240; Fabricius, William V. and Braver, Sanford L. “Relocation, Parent Conflict,
and Domestic Violence: Independent Risk Factors for Children of Divorce.” Journal of Child
Custody 3, no. 3-4 (2006): 7-28; Stevenson, Matthew M., Fabricius, William V., Braver,
Sanford L., and Cookston, Jeffrey T. “Parental Relocation Following Separation in Childhood
Predicts Maladjustment in Adolescence and Young Adulthood.” Psychology, Public Policy, and
Law 24, no. 3 (August 2018): 365-378.
42 Fabricius & Braver, “Relocation, Parent Conflict, and Domestic Violence”, 7-28; Stevenson,
Fabricius, Braver, & Cookston, “Parental Relocation”, 365-378.
43 Braver, Sanford L., Ellman, Ira M., and Fabricius, William V. “Relocation of Children After
Divorce and Children’s Best Interests: New Evidence and Legal Considerations.” Journal of
Family Psychology 17, no. 2 (2003): 206-219.
44 Fabricius & Braver, “Relocation, Parent Conflict, and Domestic Violence”, 7-28.
45 Fabricius, Braver, Diaz, & Velez, “Custody and Parenting Time”, 201-240.
46 Fabricius & Hall, “Young Adults’ Perspectives on Divorce”, 446-461.
47 See also Fabricius, “Listening to Children of Divorce”, 385-396.
48 Braver, Ellman, Vortuba, & Fabricius, “Lay Judgments About Child Custody”, 212-240.
49 Fabricius, William V., Aaron, Michael, Akins, Faren R., Assini, John J., McElroy, Tracy. “What
Happens When There is Presumptive 50/50 Parenting Time? An Evaluation of Arizona’s New
Child Custody Statute.” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 59, no. 5 (April 2018): 414-428.
50 Fabricius, Aaron, Akins, Assini, & McElroy, “What Happens When There is Presumptive
50/50 Parenting Time?”, 414-428.
51 Maccoby & Mnookin, Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody.
52 D.C. Code §16-914(a)(2); §32-717B (1) and (4).
53 Shaffer, Martha. “Joint Custody Since Kaplanis and Ladisa – A Review of Recent Ontario Case
Law.” Canadian Family Law Quarterly 26 (2007): 315-355; Birnbaum, Rachel, Bala,
Nicholas, Polak, Shely, and Sohani, Nida. “Shared Parenting: Ontario Case Law and Social
Science Research.” Canadian Family Law Quarterly 35, no. 2 (May 2016): 139-179.
54 Braver, Ellman, Vortuba, & Fabricius, “Lay Judgments About Child Custody”, 212-240.
55 Fabricius, Braver, Diaz, & Velez, “Custody and Parenting Time”, 201-240.
56 Kelly, Joan B. “Children’s Living Arrangements Following Separation and Divorce: Insights
from Empirical and Clinical Research.” Family Process 46, no. 1 (2007): 35-52.
Figure 1. Relation between the amounts of parenting time per month (4 weeks) students had
with their fathers and the emotional security of their relationships
with
their fathers
in
young
adulthood.
Reprinted with permission from: Fabricius, W. V., Sokol, K. R., Diaz, P., & Braver, S. L. (2012).
Parenting time, parent conflict, parent-child relationships, and children's physical health. In K.
Kuehnle & L. Drozd (Eds.) Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court
(pp. 188 - 213). Oxford University Press.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.