Report: Shared Parenting Statutes Are Moderately Less Terrible

Fatherhood on Friday: Shared parenting after divorce strongly correlates to the children’s best interests, and family law is slowly catching up.

Dad 2.0
Dad 2.0
Sep 27, 2019 · 4 min read

If you’re looking down the barrel at a messy custody negotiation, move to Kentucky or Arizona.

So says the National Parents Organization, a nonprofit that advocates for divorces to proceed in the best interests of the children, and knows those interests are best served by plenty of access to both parents. There’s also plenty of work ahead, because despite mountains of research that strongly correlates shared parenting and child welfare, family law still has its head stuck somewhere in 1957.

Kentucky earned its A by implementing “an explicit rebuttable presumption of equal physical custody,” which basically means “let’s start in the middle and go from there.”

Back in 2014, the NPO evaluated the family law statutes of all 50 states and DC — for how explicitly these statutes permitted and/or presumed shared parenting, and whether they rewarded parents willing to do it — and found them seriously lacking. Only 17% of children of separated or divorced parents had shared parenting, and half the states got a grade of D or below.

Five years later, the updated report features many points of improvement:

  • The average grade of the nine states that have enacted substantive new legislation has risen from D+ to B-.
  • The number of states that exceeded a minimum shared parenting threshold has risen from 26 in 2014 to 34 in 2019.
  • More states are defaulting to equal rather than shared parenting, a huge distinction since the latter is far less vague. (Kentucky earned its A by implementing “an explicit rebuttable presumption of equal physical custody,” which basically means “let’s start in the middle and go from there.”)

There’s also an important difference between the two states who failed both reports. New York, which has introduced eleven bills since 2014, is classified as a “battleground state,” while Rhode Island has spent the last half-decade sucking its thumb.

What are our main takeaways, then? Rhode Island needs to quit dicking around and get to work. If you’re a fit and loving parent, assert yourself: Fathers who actively seek primary or joint physical custody get it over 70% of the time. And if you want to live near a breathtaking natural wonder, think Grand Canyon rather than Niagara Falls.



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Photo by Dimitri de Vries on Unsplash

Originally published at on September 27, 2019.

Dad 2.0

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Dad 2.0

Where marketers, media, influencers, experts, and parents discuss and define modern fatherhood. Our 10th Summit is Oct. 1–2, 2020 in LA!

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