It is important to examine the benefits that people receive from the government once they become single parents in America.  There is a monumental difference between the treatment of the mother and the father, this is specifically contingent on which becomes the residential or custodial parent after the birth of a child to unmarried parents.  The custodial parent means much more than which parent the child resides with on a primary basis.  It can determine how the parent and child are provided for in cases where the parent falls within the poverty guidelines regulated by the U.S. government.  There are several federal and state programs that operate solely to provide people that are living in poverty basic necessities such as cash, food, healthcare, and housing.  Statistically, mothers are the victors in custody disputes and are awarded sole custody.  In fact, according to Timothy Grall of The United States Census Bureau (2013), the majority of custodial parents, (81.7 percent) were mothers and 18.3 percent were fathers.  Couple this reality with the fact that, as of 2011, the poverty rate of custodial-mother families equated approximately 38.1 percent, the chances of these mothers applying for public assistance is almost inevitable.  Given that mothers can receive public assistance from the government, this leaves the majority of low-income fathers to fend for themselves and carry the stigma of being labeled as a ‘deadbeat’ once mandated child support payments become delinquent. 

To begin the comparison of how differently poor moms are treated in contrast to poor dads the government’s cash assistance program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), must be examined.  There are more than half of the United States and Washington DC that offers some type of relief to low-income people.  Liz Schott and Clare Cho of the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities or CBPP (2011) explains that state general assistance programs provide a safety net of last resort for those who are very poor and do not qualify for other public assistance.  Over the years, this form of financial relief has declined in both the amount of grant awarded and the number of states that offer some sort of program to relieve non-residential parents. According to Schott, et al. (2011), thirty states have General Assistance (GA) programs, which generally serve very poor individuals who:

  • do not have minor children,

  • are not disabled enough to qualify for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program,

  • and are not disabled.

Of those thirty states, the cash amounts that may be awarded to these individuals is extremely low.  For example, in New Jersey, as of 2011, if an individual is determined to be employable and not disabled, the maximum benefit that be awarded was $140 per month.  Whereas, a custodial parent will fare far greater, in cash benefits, in the state.  A family of three can be awarded $424 a month in New Jersey and, effective October 1, 2008, the state will pass-through current support payments received for the month, (Michelle Vinson and Vicki Turetsky, (2009).

Depending on the payment amount, the custodial parent may collect a considerable amount of money for doing nothing more than having and gaining custody of children.  The poor noncustodial parent not only receives quite a bit less in financial assistant than the other parent, the time limits for receiving any benefits from the government differ considerably.  Take for instance the state of Illinois and how it distributes any public assistance to its citizens.  Illinois offers a $100 monthly general assistance benefit for unemployable individuals with no dependents.  An unemployable individual is characterized as a person over 65, in a substance abuse center, or needed at home to care for a young child or disabled family mentor, (Schott, et al, 2011).  It must be mentioned that only a handful of states, Illinois excluded, provide general assistance to individuals who are considered employable and have become incapacitated for whatever reason and cannot work.  If an extremely poor person qualifies for GA, the time limits for receiving the hundred dollars are unlimited.  This is, unless the person is homeless.

According to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (2009), there are no time limits except for homeless individuals who have a six-month time limit.  Since housing is a basic necessity, it is unfathomable to imagine that severely poor citizens who are sleeping on the street, should be restricted to such a limited amount of cash assistance. In contrast, a custodial parent, with two children, in the same state can receive a monthly TANF grant of $432 a month.  To put this information into perspective, people that are low-income receive very different benefits based on having and living with children.   A poor father, who may be homeless, stands to receive $600 in a six month span while a mother can receive up to $2,592 during the same six months.  If a family is allowed to receive benefits for the entire five years allotted in Illinois for TANF benefits, the total amount of possible benefits may equal $25,920.  It would definitely seem that it is not only profitable to have children, but it is even more profitable to gain sole custody of the children after the separation.

Since studies prove that women are most often granted custody of the children, the mother is the only parent that can truly benefit financially in situations where the parents and children are living in poverty.  Another source of public aid for the down-on-their-luck American citizen, is the receiving of food vouchers provided by the federal government.  While many politicians and citizens alike exuberantly condemn the food stamp program, it cannot be disputed that food is necessary in order to sustain life.  Even with this fact, the states severely limit who and for how long a person can receive this food subsidy. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, as one that offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities.  Unfortunately, the individuals are not always provided for in the way that families are often times provided for in this country.

For example, time limits for SNAP benefits differ greatly between individuals and families.  The CBPP (2014), reports that unemployed childless adults who do not have disabilities are limited to three months of SNAP benefit every three years in many areas of the country.  The percentage of custodial mothers that were receiving SNAP benefits had increased from 23.5 percent in 2007 to 34.3 percent for custodial mothers in 2011, (Grall, 2013).  This increase could be accredited to the slumping economy or the increase in unemployment across the country.  If these factors are considered, the same economic hardship and unemployment problems will, more than likely, affect people without any dependents but SNAP benefits are not readily, or abundantly, available these individuals.  According to the USDA (2015), on average a poor person with no qualifying dependents can expect to be awarded $125.35 per month in SNAP benefits.  On the other hand, a custodial parent with three children can receive, on average, $511 a month and up.  This while a custodial parent with seven dependents can be awarded up to $1,169 per month. 

A custodial parent can expect an increase of, at least, $146 in monthly SNAP benefits for each additional qualifying person, (CBPP, 2014).  This means that on average, a low-income parent that has not been granted custody of his children may be awarded $375 in food stamp assistance during a limited three year span, while a mother of two can receive up to $18,396 in food subsidies within that same time period.  To further compare the extreme differences in the assistance that custodial versus noncustodial parents receive in SNAP benefits, consider the singer mother with seven children.  That household stands to receive a whopping $42,084 in SNAP benefits after three years.  This is, of course, barring any sanctions or life changing circumstances that could increase or decrease the monthly benefit amount.  This is further evidence that the profitability that motherhood holds when accompanied with the title of residential or custodial parent.  It is important to note that several reports specify significant reductions to both amounts and time limits in GA and SNAP programs to childless individuals across the nation.  Without these limited, but vital, programs to help the most vulnerable, the end result will be more people without dependents sinking deeper into poverty.

Cash assistance and SNAP benefits are not the only awards that a custodial parent may receive from the government.  Healthcare is, and has been for what seems like forever, a controversial topic in the US.  With the passing of the Affordable Care Act under the President Barack Obama, more American citizens are obtaining medical insurance.  However, low-income, or people with no income, are often left without any insurance.  Even with the new reforms, the most vulnerable are often left with no means to purchase even the most inexpensive healthcare.  Medicaid.gov reported that Medicaid provides health coverage to 11 million non-elderly, low-income parents, other caretaker relatives, pregnant women, and other non-disabled adults.  As per usual, the non-disabled adults are not adequately provided for by the states that may offer some form of Medicaid.  Even after the enactment of the ACA, there are 22 states that are refusing to implement or are challenging the federal mandate.

For some, the elected officials may be acting on the best interest of the people, but for poor people without custody of their children, the stall tactics mean denial of yet another government funded program.  According to Benefits.gov, an Alabama resident applying for Medicaid must be either:

  • pregnant,

  • blind,

  • have a disability

  • have a family member in your household with a disability,

  • be responsible for children under 19 years of age,

  • or, be 65 years of age or older.

This leaves men without children in their custody to fend for himself, when coping with medical issues.  The custodial parent, or mother-to-be, automatically qualifies for healthcare.  The Medicaid program extends eligibility for women in the areas of family planning, cervical, and breast cancer screening programs.  There are no programs offered to men between the ages of 19 and 65 that cover family planning education, testicular, or prostate cancer screenings. In fact, for an individual with no dependents and no disabilities applying for medical benefits, there is nothing available.  The Medical Primer Alabama Medicaid Agency (2012), clearly states that Medicaid does not provide medical assistance for all poor persons.  Even with the implementation of the ACA, which could essentially insure the dependent-free adults, Alabama is still restrictive about who it will medically insure.  In order to receive health care services in Alabama, even very poor persons must be in one of the designated mandatory groups or in an optional group that the state has elected to cover, (Medical Premier Alabama Medicaid Agency, 2012).  Even in matters that could determine life and death the poor noncustodial parents are overlooked and discarded while the residential parents reap all of the benefits of being a primary caregiver.

Last, but certainly not least, the topic of shelter must be discussed. The manner in which housing programs for low-income people are largely based on who holds primary custody of the children.  As aforementioned, Illinois limits its homeless adults to six months of general relief assistance and this, only, if all other qualifications are met.  There are several low-income housing assistance programs offered by the government, but Section 8 and low-income apartments are two more common to families and certain individuals who are living in poverty.  According to United States Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD, the Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.  The custodial parent automatically qualifies for this program due to having custody of a child and being a low-income head of household. 

The federal government determines how much money is to be paid which differs by state.  The law at the New York City Housing Authority or NYCHA, the voucher payment standard (VPS) is the maximum monthly housing assistant payment for the family (before deducting the total tenant payment by the family).  Currently in New York City, the VPS paid on behalf of a family in need of three bedroom living quarters is $1,999 a month, (NYCHA, 2015).  But the payments do not end there for residential parents.  The agency will pay utility allowances based on the source used for cooking, heating, and heating water.  For example, a family residing in a dwelling with three bedrooms that uses oil heat to heat water will receive an allowance of $179 per month, (NYCHA, 2015).  If a family uses electric heat to heat water and has a three bedroom house or apartment, the government will pay a voucher of almost $450 per month.   Essentially, a single mother with custody of two children that qualifies for Section 8, can receive over $2,400 in housing benefits per month.

Unfortunately, these same benefits do not apply to the low-income father.  He may qualify for public housing but the dwelling will not be private nor will he receive any cash assistance for the duration of his residency.  The housing accommodations with be in one of New York’s jails or prisons.  In the state of New York, a parent that owes a child support debt can, and will, be charged with either 1st degree nonsupport or 2nd degree nonsupport as a repeat offender.  Statistically, the people that are charged for nonsupport are poor.  Elaine Sorenson, Liliana Sousa, and Simon Schaner of The Urban Institute conducted a study of nine states for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2007 which found that, 70% of the arrears were owed by obligors who had either no reported income or reported income of $10,000 a year or less.  This comparison of how poor custodial parent (usually mothers) are treated versus how poor fathers are treated brings to the forefront how extremely biased and unfair the government can be toward noncustodial fathers who are in need of housing.  Prison or a Section 8 voucher is a considerable difference in treatment towards poor people who happen to be parents.

Public housing is another subsidy program offered to a specific group of low-income Americans.  The public housing program was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.  Again, a program is supposed to assist poor people but, instead, is discriminating against individuals that cannot claim sole custody of their own children.  One of these groups of individuals are homeless veterans.  One of the biggest issues that homeless veterans report experiencing is owing child support debt.  According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement or OCSE (2012), about half of the states have more than 100,000 veterans in their child support caseload.  Due to the strict classification restrictions mandated by the federal government, public housing is not even available to people that have sacrificed life and limb for this country.  Shannon Welton, of the San Diego County Department of Child Support Services, reported that 12% of the homeless population in the county are veterans and 20% of the male population.  However, these dismal statistics have not forced the government to open the public housing program to these most vulnerable veterans. 

Again, public housing is only available to residential parents.  HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs or the VA do offer homeless veterans assistance when finding a place to call home, but the veteran must meet strict criteria in order to qualify.  One of the requirements that must be met in order to receive assistance is the need of a VA case manager from the veteran.  The VA explains that the veteran who needs case management services must have a serious mental illness, substance and disorder history, or physical disability.  In other words, individual veterans without serious ailments need not apply for housing assistance.  The veteran housing program is one that will only cater to a disabled veteran and a veteran with a family.  This leaves the single veteran with no dependents to claim, literally, out in the cold. 

There are statistics and numerous examples of how the government essentially rewards poor mothers with benefits as long as she retains full custody of the children.  On the other hand, a poor father is deserted with no resources.  After the recent recession accompanied with the slow economic recovery, employment opportunities are scattered and unobtainable for certain individuals.  By simply giving birth, a woman living in poverty will be provided for by the government, while the father living in poverty is expected to pay child support and arrears when those payments are, often, unaffordable.  A mother, retaining full custody of children will receive cash, food stamp vouchers, medical insurance and housing for, in some cases, an undetermined amount of time.  The father receives no assistance and can have all licenses revoked, be labeled a ‘deadbeat’ rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, be arrested, and sentenced to prison.  There is a clear double standard when it relates to parenthood.  There needs to be equality when deciding how responsibility for parenthood is decided and, once decided, who will be awarded full custody of the children.  We must, as a country, dramatically alter how we deal with low-income parents, regardless of gender.  

By implementing fair legislation, such as shared parenting and equal benefits if necessary, the children will benefit from being raised by both parents.  Low-income women should not be guaranteed a profit when making the decision to become a parent.  Even more importantly, people should not be denied basic necessities, such as food, housing, and health care based on gender and the ability to give birth to a child.  If a person is low-income, they need assistance even more so, through difficult times regardless of their parental and custodial status.  The government has vilified poor fathers while denying any of the same programs that are offered to poor mothers.  This is not only unfair and biased, it is yet another, example of the violation of equal protections under the current child support laws.  We, as a country, must strive to right the wrong that has been executed upon poor fathers by way of the unconstitutional child support system.  By implementing the reform of the child support system under Former President Clinton, we, as a country, have made our vulnerable male citizens second class citizens.  Since abolishment of the child support system is likely impossible, significant reform is the only option left for the U.S. to rectify the injustice that has been brought against poor fathers.

References:

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (2014, September 29). A quick guide to SNAP eligibility and benefits — Center on budget and policy priorities. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1269

Grall, T. (2013). Custodial mothers and fathers and their child support: 2011 (60-246). Retrieved from United States Census Bureau website: https://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-246.pdf

Medical Primer Alabama Medicaid Agency. (2012, February 2). The medicaid Eligibility Primer | Alabama medicaid agency. Retrieved from http://www.medicaid.alabama.gov/documents/2.0_Newsroom/2.1_About_Medicaid/2.1_Medicaid_Primer_10-12-12.pdf

New York City Housing Authority. (2015). Voucher payment standards - New york city housing authority. Retrieved from http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/section8/voucher_payment.shtml

Office of Child Support Enforcement, & Administration for Children & Families. (2011). The story behind the numbers (1). Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/programs/css/veterans_in_the_caseload.pdf

Schott, L., & Cho, C. (2011, December 19). General assistance programs: Safety net weakening despite increased need — Center on budget and policy priorities. Retrieved from http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3603

Sorenson, E., Sousa, L., Schaner, S., & The Urban Institute. (2007). Assessing child support arrears in nine large states and the nation: Main page (233-02-0092). Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/07/assessing-CS-debt/

U,S, Department of Housing and Urban Development. (n.d.). Housing choice voucher program section 8. Retrieved from http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_choice_voucher_program_section_8

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). HUD-VASH eligibility criteria - Homeless veterans. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.va.gov/homeless/hud-vash_eligibility.asp

United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) | Food and nutrition service. Retrieved from http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap

United States Department of Agriculture. (2015, April 10). Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) | Average monthly benefit per person. Retrieved from http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/pd/18SNAPavg$PP.pdf

Vinson, M., & Turetsky, V. (2009, June 12). State child support pass-through policies. Retrieved from http://www.clasp.org/docs/PassThroughFinal061209.pdf

Washington State Institute of Public Policy. (2009). General assistance programs for unemployable adults (09-12-4101). Retrieved from The Washington State Legislature website: http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/1061/Wsipp_General-Assistance-Programs-for-Unemployable-Adults_Full-Report.pdf

 

 

                                                                                         

 
 
South Dakota is one of the most recent states to embrace the thought of enacting legislation in support of shared parenting in the United States.  Shared parenting, by definition, is a collaborative arrangement in child custody or divorce determinations in which both parents have the right and responsibility of being actively involved in the raising of a child(ren), (Wikipedia).  There have been numerous studies that report the benefits that children receive when raised by two parents while residing in single-parent homes.  The laws governing joint custody and shared parenting are similar to child support guidelines in that they are written and regulated by state officials.  These policies become complicated when deciding custody and visitation schedules and calculating child support payments that benefit the parents, and most importantly, the children.  A study conducted by Linda Neilson of the Stanford Custody Project (2014), revealed that 51 out of 1406 children chosen randomly made better grades, were less depressed, and were more, well-adjusted behaviorally than the 355 adolescents who lived primarily with their mother.  With this information, being not only available, but relevant in proving that children are overall more emotionally stable, there is no reason that a strong shared-parenting plan is not a mandate in all child support and custody decisions.

One could deduce that custody and child support are equally important which would mean that all decisions involving both should be made simultaneously.  That is not true in the US.  Every state has specific guidelines written in its policies that distinctly identify that child support and custody topics are two separate issues.  For example, in Ohio, the law is very clear that child support and visitation are not related.  According to Brian D. Watts (2007), the duty to pay support is separate and distinct from the right to parenting time with a child.  While it is true that both parents are financially responsible for their children, the expenses accrued by noncustodial parents during visitation and/or overnight stays, are often ignored when it pertains to child support and visitation.  Even though South Dakota has updated its legislation, researchers have not recognized one state that has outstanding shared parenting policies in place nor has any serious legislation been considered to decrease or eliminate child support completely. 

Almost all states have some type of shared parenting plan that allow adjustments to child support payments based on time spent with the children.  There are eighteen states that offer some adjustments to child support amounts based on the time the nonresidential parent spends with his or her child.  According to the National Conference of State Legislation or NCSL, in Alaska, the government offers a reduction based on a cross-credit formula of a 1.5 multiplier based on a 30% shared parenting time threshold.  The cross-credit formula is the most common used method and this formula can be greatly beneficial to the noncustodial parent.  Jo M. Beld and Len Biernat explained in the Family Law Quarterly (2003), that states apply a multiplier, usually 1.5 to the base support order before making an adjustment based on additional visitation to offset fixed costs of the residence when the child is not home.  The 1.5 approach adjusts for costs expended by the noncustodial parent while recognizing the costs associated with maintaining two households.  By using this method, the best interest of the child truly be appreciated.  The parents are both able to maintain adequate and comfortable households wherever the child has a ‘sleepover’ and the livelihood of the noncustodial parent is not threatened by paying child support/fixed costs at the custodial parent.  Additionally, it has been proven that as the actual amount of overnight time they ( the child and the parent) spent together during adolescence increased from 1% to 50%, the young adults’ positive ratings of their relationships with their fathers also increased, (Neilson, 2014).  This means that the government, both federal and state, should strongly consider implanting stronger and more meaningful shared parenting plans.  This needs to be done while applying reductions to child support payments so that the children are financially and emotionally provided for by both parents.

A visitation credit may be applied in some cases in states that recognize the per diem method when deviating from the custody and child support orders.  This method is utilized and supported in Missouri along with the per diem shared parenting time formula.  The visitation credit is a percentage of the base child support amount that does not include any of the additional expenses, (Matt Allen, 2011).  It only makes sense that parents should receive reductions in child support when adequate time is spent with their children.  The more time a child suspends, with the exclusion of fixed costs like rent, the more money the parent could spend directly on the child.  With the per diem method, a parent is credited with an obligation for the number of days the child spends with the parent, (David M. Betson).  By using this method, the noncustodial parent receives some type of financial relief while actively participating in the raising of his or her child.  When children are involved in a co-parenting situation, they are less likely to experience some of the issues that children raised in single-family homes tend to endure.  The Neilson Analysis found that when 83 children (35 shared parented and 58 sole residences) were tested, the shared children were better adjusted emotionally, (Neilson, 2014).  These findings should be included when and if legislation is introduced to promote nationwide shared parenting plans.  These positive outcomes showing children who benefit emotionally should be worth more than a parent that benefits financially from receiving child support payments from the noncustodial parent.  It is, however, detrimental that both parents spend adequate time with their children and have the financial ability to provide basic needs for both themselves and their children.

The threshold of time is important when figuring deductions relating to the amount of time parents spend with their children.  According to Patricia R Brown and Tonya Brito of the Institute for Research and Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2007), the threshold identified the point along the continuum of time-share above which an adjustment of child support should be made in order to take in account the direct costs of caring for the child incurred by the lesser-time parent.  Deductions are applied based on when the threshold is met and these vary between states.  Some states, like Kentucky and Mississippi do not have such thresholds, but the majority of states offer thresholds ranging from 10% to 40%.  Missouri, on the other hand, does offer threshold deductions.  The ‘Show Me’ State is on the low-end reporting a 10% threshold, but this percentage is subject to increase in certain situations.  Missouri guidelines allows for a deviation when children spend ‘substantially’ equal time with both parents, (NCSL).  The benefit of a possible deviation, coupled with the fact that Missouri is one of 24 states that requires a “friendly parent” factor when deciding parenting plans, only earns an average grade when it comes to litigating child custody issues.

The “Friendly Parent” factor, as defined by The National Parents Organization (2007), means that states have language in a custody statute that recognizes and rewards a parents’ willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a closer and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.  It is not clear why every state does not require courts to implement a friendly parent factory when deciding shared parenting plans.  This rule should be on the forefront in all custody cases, especially since children are more stable when being raised by both parents, even in separate homes.  Another method that states utilize when determining deductions to child support obligations based on shared parenting time is the modified Betson approach.  This method is less common, as only New Jersey and Arizona, practice this formula when determining parenting plans.  The Betson Method, based on Arizona guidelines, can be used after it has been determined that there are no additional costs accrued when choosing a shared parenting plan instead of using the joint custody option.  According to David M, Betson, a credit is computed based upon the number of overnights spent with the parent with the obligation.  Arizona does not consider a shared parenting threshold when computing the child support obligation in reference to a percentage of time spent with the noncustodial parent.

Instead, the size of the credit is the product of the obligation times the percentage found in the look up tables based on overnights spent, (Betson).  The modified Betson would be an ideal solution in the eyes of most because the best interest of the child and the parents are being met and possibly exceeded.  The child will spend more time with the nonresidential parent while the parent is able to adequately provide during the time the child in his or her custody.  Too often, parents are expected to not only provide child support, but maintain a standard of living for themselves and another family in cases where the parent remarries.  The days of reducing a parent to nothing in order to satisfy unrealistic child support debt should quickly become a thing of the past.  By sharing parental responsibilities (excluding money), the child(ren) has the chance to experience better emotional and physical outcomes. 

Surprisingly, there are several arguments in support of denying shared parenting even when there is no reports of violence which would, and should, prevent both parents from raising their child(ren).  One argument is that shared parenting leads to different inconsistencies for the child.  Opponents of shared parenting argue that disciplinary consistency is almost impossible when a child is divided between two households.  Individuals have the right to raise and discipline their children as they feel appropriate as long as there are no laws are being broken.  This should apply to all parents, regardless of whether the child is being raised in one or two households. It is a personal decision on how to raise children.  One parent has no right to tell another how to discipline or when to discipline their child.  Equal protections enter into the arena as the question should be asked, are married parents forced to disclose and negotiate their parenting styles in order to appease another?  Short of behaving in an illegal manner, the answer is no.  Another argument against shared parenting are the issues that may arise when parents choose to remarry.  According to Families.com, parents who manage to peacefully co-parent before, are taken aback completely when the other parent remarries.  This, of course should have no impact on the parent and child relationship.  Nor should it prohibit the child from being raised by both parents. The reality is that many parents remarry and if the residential parent can remarry and move a new adult person into the household without recourse or judgment, the nonresidential parent should enjoy that same opportunity.  Research has shown that shared parenting is more likely to decrease the negative impact of high ongoing conflict than sole residence parenting plans, (Neilson, 2014). 

The arguments against shared parenting will continue to grow as more states embrace this reality of changing separated family dynamics.  If there are no signs and proof of abuse, there should be no restrictions place on parents that choose a shared parenting plan no matter who initiated the action.  The government bashes the American ‘fatherless’ society, while perpetuating the rise of single parent homes.  Parents should have child support payments reduced based on the amount of time and money he or she spends with the child(ren),  Unfortunately, too many parents rely on child support payments as a source of income.  Because of this fact, any reduction in the support amount may force residential parents to seek gainful employment.  This is another reason that naysayers to shared parenting plans refuse to adopt this reinvented option of co-parenting. Noncustodial parents often beg to spend time and help raise their children, however, are often labeled as a deadbeat if they happen to be unemployed and unable to pay child support debt.  It has been overstated that children need both parents. 

Studies and research have proven that being raised by both parents is in a child’s best interest and yet shared parenting plans are not mandated across the country.  Less than 25 states currently require ‘friendly parent’ factors be included in their statutes.  The National Parents Organization recently conducted a study to grade the state on their shared parenting plans. There were no states that scored an A.  The other states earned grades ranging from a B in states like Arizona and Minnesota to an F which was received by New York and Rhode Island.  The family courts, child support enforcement, and parents relying of children as paychecks, will continue to oppose any legislation that favors strong parenting plans that ultimately favor the noncustodial parents and the child.  There is too much money involved in executing theses biased systems.  Until we force the government to mandate effective shared parenting plans and child support reform legislation, the fatherless generation will linger and children will be deprived of being raised by both parents.

References:

Allen, M. (2011, April 1). What is a visitation credit? - St. Louis divorce support | Examiner.com. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/what-is-a-visitation-credit

Beld, J. M., & Biernat, L. (2003). Federal intent for state child support guidelines: Income shares, cost shares, and the realities of shared parenting. Family Law Quarterly, 37(165). Retrieved from www.alacourt.gov/pdfppt/FEDERAL_INTENT.pdf

Betson, D. M. (n.d.). Work product of Indiana judicial council review for support guidelines- Shared parenting, visitation and child support. Retrieved from http://www3.nd.edu/~dbetson/research/documents/SharedParentingFinal.pdf

Brown, P. R., & Brito, T. (2007). Characteristics of shared-placement child support formulas in the fifty states. Retrieved from Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Bureau of Child Support website: http://www.irp.wisc.edu/research/childsup/cspolicy/pdfs/Brown_Brito_Task11.pdf

Families.com. (n.d.). The Case Against Joint Physical Custody Parents Families.com. Retrieved from http://www.families.com/blog/the-case-against-joint-physical-custody

National Conference of State Legislatures. (n.d.). States' treatment of shared parenting time. Retrieved from www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/states-treatment-of-shared-parenting-time.aspx

National Parents Organization. (2014, November 10). 2014 shared parenting reporting card a new look at child welfare a state-by-state ranking. Retrieved from https://nationalparentsorganization.org/docs/2014_Shared_Parenting_Report_Card%2011-10-2014.pdf

Nielson, L. (2014). Shared physical custody: Summary of 40 studies on outcomes for children. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 55, 614-636. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1080/10502556.2014.965578

Watts, B. D. (n.d.). Child custody and parenting. Retrieved from http://www.brianwattslaw.com/Family/childcustody.html

Wikipedia. (2014, November 5). Shared parenting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shared_parenting