There are two different concepts of equal parenting. In a marriage, equal parenting is when both parents work together to insure that the children spend as much time with one parent as they do the other. Parents share equally in discipline, schooling, getting children to and from the places they need to be—and in the fun part of being a parent, doing fun things.

Equal parenting after separation or divorce builds on this concept. Equal parenting espouses the belief that joint custody should be physical as well as legal. The child should spend equal time with each parent. Children who have equal time with both parents are better adjusted, have less problems in school, less teen pregnancy and drug and alcohol addiction. Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin are the only states that currently have legislation which promotes equal access to both parents.

Some of the benefits of equal parenting legislation are:

  • Ensures that the children spend approximately equal amounts of time with each parent;
  • Children have ample opportunity to establish positive post-separation (or post-divorce) relationships with both parents;
  • Shared parenting forces parents to work together and focus on what is really best for the children, as opposed to their own personal interests;
  • Neither parent can subvert or reduce the other parent’s role in the children’s lives;
  • Mandating shared physical custody can lead to a reduction in bitter, destructive child custody battles, which put intense emotional strain on children following a divorce or separation;
  • When shared custody is employed efficiently, the children are less likely to feel “caught in the middle” and may experience greater awareness of being loved by both parents.

Some of the negative effects of equal parenting legislation are:

  • Some parents may resist shared parenting because they differ with the other parent on child-rearing or lifestyle issues;
  • There could be an increase in ugly attempts to declare one parent unfit for the purpose of circumventing shared parenting laws;
  • While the opportunity to spend equal amounts of time with each parent is valuable, the actual shuttling back-and-forth between two homes can be difficult for children;
  • Mandating shared parenting across the board does not take into consideration the varying needs of individual children and families;
  • In cases where one or both parents are not supportive of shared parenting, the transition between two homes can be even more challenging.

Father’s rights groups are very supportive of equal parenting, while detractors say it is just an effort to reduce child support. Anything that increases the stability of a child’s life after divorce should be given careful consideration.


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