Crowley says the problem with linking support payments and time spent with kids is that in some cases it can create a "less than pure incentive for fathers to ask for more time with their children." Gary Nickelson of the AAML says men have come into his office saying they want custody of their kids half the time so that they can pay half the support. "If that's why you're in it, you're not going to win." Most men, though, he says, "just want a fair shake.
They want to be involved with their kids."Fathers and Families is just one of many organizations for fathers who believe that they're not getting a fair shake. Ned Holstein, a public health physician who heads the 4,500-member group, says it represents men who want more time for the right reasons.
There are legions of men for whom this is a really painful thing."Why don't the men who are unhappy with the arrangements they have fight for more time?
(Currently about 7 percent of sole custodial parents are men.) Holstein says the legal system deters them.
The change in support law has been applauded by fathers' rights groups.
Research to be published in the journal Family Relations in 2009 shows that there have been significant increases in how much nonresident dads (those who don't have primary custody) are seeing their kids.They cried, and were confused, but they didn't ask the big questions we thought they would.They wanted to know where they'd live, and whether they would still have the same last name. " Her dad and I looked at each other and said, "Both.The traditional dad-gets-every-other-weekend formula is logistically easier than what Jorgen and I planned. "It's not like it was 20 years ago," says Leslie Drozd, editor of the Journal of Child Custody. " Most often, children still end up living primarily with the mother; according to the most recent census, moms are the official primary residential parent after a divorce in 5 out of 6 cases, a number that hasn't changed much since the mid-'90s."There's no longer the same presumption that young children must be with their mother."Courts are changing as well; in the small percentage (5 percent) of custody cases that do go to litigation, judges are now more inclined to disregard gender and look at who's the better parent, says Gary Nickelson, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Nationwide, the proportion of divorced spouses who opt for joint physical custody, where kids spend anywhere between 33 and 50 percent of their time with one parent and the rest with the other, are still small—about 5 percent, according to an analysis of data from the '90's on post-divorce living arrangements by clinical psychologist Joan B. But in California and Arizona, where statutes permitting joint physical custody were adopted in the '80s, a decade earlier than in most states, the joint-physical-custody rates were higher, ranging from 12 to 27 percent.