Counter Arts
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Counter Arts

Lesbian Joint Custody & Noncustodial Parents

Most separated lesbians mothers share custody whereas the children of most separated opposite-sex parents live primarily with their mom.

Lesbian Custody

Gartrell et al. (2011) followed this among adolescents whose lesbian mothers dissolved their relationship.

Whether or not they’re married, lesbian relationships have the highest rate of dissolution of any couple — a pattern found around the world for decades, and ultimately confounding given all the other positive, egalitarian, & otherwise socially evolved patterns associated with lesbian relationships. Indeed, on many variables associated with dyadic & familial egalitarianism, lesbians are superior to heterosexual couples (Bos et al., 2007; Bos & van Balen, 2010; Chan et al., 1998; Ciano-Boyce & Shelley-Sireci, 2002; Goldberg et al., 2012; Patterson et al., 2004; Perlesz et al., 2010; Tasker & Golombok, 1998).

Lesbians’ high dissolution rate is such an aberration in light of such positive outcomes on virtually all other relational metrics that it’s akin to seeing guacamole defacing an otherwise perfect plate of food, or a pitcher throwing a no-hitter until her final inning… she was so close 😥

Given the high rate of dissolution, it’s likely that some factors that predict dissolution with heterosexual couples may predict dissolution with lesbian couples. Consistent with research on heterosexual women, some lesbians report that their relationships deteriorated once they had their child(ren) (Gartrell et al., 2011).

However, in line with research that lesbians (and gay men) have better interaction patterns than heterosexuals (Gottman et al., 2003), lesbians are more likely than heterosexuals to share custody following dissolution. Specifically…

“Nearly 75% of separated lesbian mothers are sharing custody“ (Gartrell et al., 2011), whereas about 75% of children from separated opposite-sex parents “lived primarily with their mothers” (Emery et al., 2005, p. 5).

The following patterns were reported among heterosexuals:
“65% of mothers had sole physical and legal custody,
10% had sole physical and joint legal custody,
11% of fathers had sole physical custody (with either joint or sole legal custody),
9% of parents had joint physical and legal custody,
and 5% had split custody or some other arrangement (Child Trends, 2002).

Thus, about 75% of children not living with both parents lived primarily with their mothers, approximately 10% lived primarily with their fathers, about 10% lived in joint physical custody, and another 5% lived either in split custody or in some other arrangement” (Emery et al., 2005, p. 5).

Shared childrearing after heterosexual divorce has been associated with more favorable outcomes, particularly if the relationship between the ex-partners is amicable (Emery, 2011). The shared arrangements in most separated lesbian mother families may account for the relatively high scores on life satisfaction reported by adolescents in the present study.

Among lesbian families that include children, they stay together significantly longer if the non-gestational mother legally adopts their child(ren). Kids spend more time with their biological mother than their adoptive mother. Kids typically spent more time with their birth mothers. Having a positive bond with their mothers is associated with children’s resilience against stigmatization (Bos & Gartrell, 2010).

“Preparation for the prospect of adversity may have facilitated the development of coping strategies in adolescents whose mothers broke up, especially if the ex-partners failed to resume an amicable relationship.”

Most children from divorced families consider their mother’s place to be home (Nielsen, 2011), and generally only benefit from ongoing contact with their father if the father’s predivorce involvement was high (Poortman, 2018). If a child has a positive bond with both parents, physical joint custody tends to benefit everyone (Nielsen, 2011). However, physical joint custody negatively affects children’s well-being if the relationship with their father wasn’t necessarily positive prior to the divorce (Spruijt & Duindam, 2010).

“The LGB stepfamily is not perceived by the broader society as a legitimate family form, which can create challenges for LGB stepparents (e.g., in asserting their authority as parents; Hall & Kitson, 2000). This lack of legitimacy and recognition may also pose problems related to stepsibling relations (e.g., stepsiblings may not acknowledge one another as family outside of the home for fear of being ‘‘outed’’; Baptiste, 1987)…”

Nonbiological mothers, especially those who had less contact with participants, wanted joint custody but, lacking equal legal or biological footing with their ex-partners, felt pressured to comply with their ex-partners’ preferences for fear of losing contact with their children. Research on heterosexual divorce suggests that in some cases, fathers want joint custody but do not pursue it in court because they believe that judges will rule against them, given the bias against fathers in family court (Frieman, 2002; Nielsen, 2011). Research on heterosexual divorcing parents has found that court involvement, especially when contentious, is linked to poor coparental relationships (Baum, 2003).

Their stories speak to the sometimes unacknowledged power of biology to define and construct familial relationships (Gabb, 2005; Goldberg, 2010), and the implications of this power for creating a hierarchy of relationships in the event of relationship dissolution.”

Emery, R. E., Otto, R. K., & O’donohue, W. T. (2005). A critical assessment of child custody evaluations: Limited science and a flawed system. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 6(1), 1–29.

Gartrell, N., Bos, H., Peyser, H., Deck, A., & Rodas, C. (2011). Family characteristics, custody arrangements, and adolescent psychological well‐being after lesbian mothers break up. Family Relations, 60(5), 572–585.

Anna Malmquist, 2015: Biology vs Egalitarian

Lesbians’ Unison Interpretative Repertoire

“Routines and duties, such as putting kids to sleep or picking them up at preschool, are described as shared in agreements phrased as ‘‘every other time,’’ ‘‘take turns,’’ and ‘‘share alike.’’ This way of talking exemplifies an interpretative repertoire where equality and similarity are both idealized and self-evident. Here, same-sex parenthood is presented as free from stereotypical gender roles and thereby spontaneously equal.”

Biologistic Interpretative Repertoire

“Differences, however, are also claimed to be a given, formed by the statuses of birth and non-birth mother. Because their rhetoric relies heavily on biology, differences are claimed to be non-negotiable urges, rather than personal desires. Because the ‘‘reality’’ of biology sets the frames, the parents’ unequal roles are justified; they are simply construed as factual. Claiming that something is factual is a wellknown rhetorical strategy that enables the speaker to appear not to be personally accountable for how things are (Edwards & Potter, 1992).

The biologistic interpretative repertoire differs from the others in not idealizing equality. Rather, when drawing on this repertoire, the interviewees claim that the two parents are different because of the ‘‘reality’’ of biology. The birth mother’s closer bond to the child is outlined in a biologistic rhetoric that forms a non-negotiable frame for parenthood. This rhetoric effectively outplays potential egalitarian values, visualized in particular when the partners in a couple draw on different repertoires where one partner calls for an equality that the other dismisses by referring to the ‘‘reality’’ of biology. Multiple previous empirical studies have shown a difference between birth mothers and non-birth mothers wherein birth mothers spend more time with the child (Bos et al., 2007; Ciano-Boyce & Shelley-Sireci, 2002; Downing & Goldberg, 2011; Goldberg & Perry-Jenkins, 2007; Patterson, 1995). Mothers also seem to engage in different types of childcare such that birth mothers do more nurturing activities and non-birth mothers engage more in rough-and-tumble play (Goldberg et al., 2008). Moreover, and presumably accordingly, previous research has shown that most infants show a preference for the birth mother over the non-birth mother (Goldberg et al., 2008; Pelka, 2009). These empirical studies seem to reflect the core claim of the biologistic repertoire: that the difference in birth status between parents matters a great deal.

Despite equal formal rights, the couples in the present study differ in how they depict equality in their own relations. Important from an activist perspective, these finding suggest that formal equal rights do not automatically insure equality.” (Anna Malmquist, 2015).”

Malmquist, A. (2015). Women in lesbian relations: Construing equal or unequal parental roles?. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 39(2), 256–267.

Still A Mother

— Chapter 1 Excerpts

“…in 2016, of the 27% of children under twenty-one who had a parent who did not reside with them, 19.6% had a custodial father. This figure increased from 16% in 1994, representing a 22.5% increase in father custody in a little more than twenty years (Grall 2018). While it is problematic to assume that a custodial father always implies there is a corresponding noncustodial mother, we can approximate that 5% of all children in the United States have a mother who is noncustodial…

Black feminists, like Patricia Hill Collins (1991a), note that Black1 women’s mothering does not rest on the Eurocentric and class-laden cult of true womanhood but rather has always incorporated work both inside and outside the home. Black families are less tightly associated with the strict gender-divided nuclear form, with “othermothers” being fundamental in the institution of Black motherhood (Collins 1991b). Similarly, work on transnational mothering shifts our focus to financial caregiving in lieu of in-person intensive motherhood (Hundley and Hayden 2016)…

Natural childbirth holds cultural approval even as caesarean rates climb. And we are still playing tug-of-war between Ferberizing and attachment parenting. Employed mothers are seen as neglectful; stay-at-home mothers, indulgent. The balance between work and family is a frustrating mirage for so many mothers who shoulder the bulk of household labor despite having an adult partner in the home. Shaming mothers for being employed is nearly beside the point when the United States has no federal provision for paid maternity leave or even mandated paid sick days. Poor women and women in precarious jobs are unlikely to access such perks even when provided by employers. Our anachronistic minimum wage and high levels of multiple job holding are both a cause and consequence of poverty. Through all of this, mothers remain the objects of intense cultural surveillance.

Despite the gender-neutral buzzword helicopter parent, most of the shaming directed at overparenting is reserved for mothers.

The Cult of Domesticity

For most of US history through colonial times, with the important exception of slavery, fathers had sole rights to their children, as children were understood to be economic property of their fathers. Fathers determined how, for whom, and under what conditions children labored, and fathers received the proceeds of their children’s labor. Fathers alone determined custodial arrangements for their children even after the father’s death. In this era, “the natural right is with the father unless the father is somehow unfit” (Mason 1994, 50). Along with the right to one’s children came the absolute economic responsibility of providing for the care, religious upbringing, and education of the child in his care (Mason 1994). Unmarried mothers and widows had no recourse to custodial arrangements made by the father, and married women were invisible in legal terms as they were unable to enter into contracts or own property.

Women, keepers of the home realm, were seen as uniquely suited for the nurturing of children while men operated in the public sphere of economic and political life.

The cult of domesticity elevated mothers to a cultural position of moral superiority.

No-fault divorce and the search for gender equality formed the background against which the tender years doctrine waned and women who worked outside the home lost any special status that motherhood may have conferred in earlier times.

In a review of court decisions in 1990, fathers who sought custody won with a slight majority over mothers.

In fact, judges had demoted motherhood as a determining factor in custody. Far greater weight had come to be placed on the parent with superior economic stability or who acted as the primary disciplinarian…

…custodial fathers are more likely to be White (43.7%) than custodial mothers (59.2%) & less likely to be Black (29.3% of custodial mothers are Black while 15.8 percent of custodial fathers are Black).
Custodial mothers are more likely to have never married (42.6%) than to declare any other marital status, while custodial fathers are more likely to be divorced (32.9%) than to declare any other marital status (Grall, 2016)” (Jackie Krasas, 2021).

LGB-Parent Families Formed Through Surrogacy

(Abbie Goldberg et al., 2014)

The limited available data on LGB-parent families formed through surrogacy suggest that this option is used primarily by affluent gay men. 

Studies are needed that explore the gender, race, and class dynamics of domestic and international surrogacy.

Many LGB parents find that family ties strengthen after the arrival of a child.

There is some evidence that the play behavior of girls and boys in same-sex parent families may be less gender-stereotyped than the play behavior of girls and boys in different-sex-parent families.

“As noted by Rosenfeld (2013), children come into same-sex parent families from a variety of situations, including orphanages, foster families, and divorced or separated heterosexual families. Thus, children living with same-sex couple parents may start out with educational disadvantages that accrued before they came to be raised by same-sex couples” (Manning et al., 2014).

Why the +

LGBTIQ+ (Lahti & Kolehmainen, 2020)

+ is an acknowledgement of the non-cisgender and non-heterosexual identities that are not included in the initialism.

Lahti & Kolehmainen, 2020 (continued)

Lesbians & bisexual women often remain friends after dissolution.

“the ‘army of ex-lovers’ was one way to stay within and build a lesbian community.”

Bisexual Woman Dating a Man vs Woman

“…the trend of primarily focusing on bisexuals women’s relationships when they are a part of a different-sex couple likely fails to capture the lives of all bisexual women, and points to the need for further research to explore the experiences of bisexual women in same-sex relationships (Dyar et al., 2014). The authors observed that bisexual women in same-sex relationships were more likely to express uncertainty about which sexual identity label best captured their identity, be “out,” and be assumed by others to be lesbian compared to those who were single or were in a different-sex relationship” (Hutsell, 2015).


Women are more open to close hugs than men (Derlega et al., 1989)

Straight women/men rated close hugs between men as inappropriate but rated close hugs between men & women and women & women were perfectly fine (Derlega et al., 2001). In contrast, LG & bisexual participants didn’t view the appropriateness of close hugs any differently based on the sex of the hugging pair.

Hugging behavior within families is important for relationships and psychological and physiological wellbeing (Forsell & Aström, 2012; Gerhardt, 2014; Holt-Lunstad et al., 2008; Light et al., 2005; Ripoll & Casado, 2010). A low occurrence of hugging could possibly influence wellbeing in a negative manner.

Michelle Hufkens, 2016: “The biological mother of the lesbian family (compared with the mother of the comparison group) and the adoption mother of the lesbian family (compared with the father of the comparison group) seem to hug less often with all other family members.” ‘However, the gestational lesbian/ biological parent hugs the oldest child more.’ [Biological Parenthood Effect?? Please share corroborating research if you have/ know of any]

Gestational lesbian moms hug their oldest child more than the adoptive lesbian mom & the gestational heterosexual mom, and heterosexual fathers hug their spouse more than anyone in the family (Hufkens, 2016).

Hugging and other affective bodily touches have a positive impact on both psychological and physiological wellbeing (Forsell & Aström, 2012; Gerhardt, 2014).

Cohen et al., 2015: “Nonsexual physical touch, such as hugging, is a means of conveying empathy, caring, and reassurance (e.g., Hertenstein, Keltner, App, Bulleit, & Jaskolka, 2006; HoltLunstad et al., 2008; Reis & Patrick, 1996) & this implicit communication of affection and concern is an important contributor to the protective influence of perceived support against the pathogenic effects of stress.”

In short, hugs are beneficial for health as they reduce someone’s probability of infection… but not this year. Maintain #SocialDistancing

Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Turner, R. B., & Doyle, W. J. (2015). Does hugging provide stress-buffering social support? A study of susceptibility to upper respiratory infection and illness. Psychological science, 26(2), 135–147.

Derlega, V. J., Catanzaro, D., & Lewis, R. J. (2001). Perceptions about tactile intimacy in same-sex and opposite-sex pairs based on research participants’ sexual orientation. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 2(2), 124–132.

Gender & Gaming

The modern concept of identity formation often focuses on how people construct their identities through their clothing and other items they purchase (Slater 1997). Although this construction is by no means limited to women alone, it has a different focus for women. Women are expected to enjoy shopping, experiencing excessive consumption as a means of realizing individuation (Bauman 2000).

Men not only are allowed to dislike and avoid shopping but men are less likely to be encouraged to find their identity through the construction of their clothing and instead are to focus on their jobs or careers as the main means of expressing their empowerment.

So not only is gaming dangerous because it helps women to feel empowered and so less likely to shop for fulfillment and even less likely to be exposed to the advertisements intended to get them to readily consume, it is also dangerous because it might do the same for men, driving them away from consumer culture.

ADHD & Female Protection

The excess of males with ADHD has been further confirmed by meta-analyses, with 4 times as many males as females thought to be affected (Catala-Lopez et al., 2012; Willcut, 2012).

A number of twin studies have established that ADHD is among the most heritable of neuropsychiatric conditions (Levy et al., 1997; Sherman et al., 1997; Polderman et al., 2007; Greven et al., 2011; Larsson et al., 2012).

The Female Protective Effect
- females require greater exposure than males to genetic & environmental factors associated with ADHD to display sufficient symptoms to warrant diagnosis (Taylor et al., 2016).

For example, the fraternal cotwins of females displaying a high degree of autistic traits displayed more autistic traits than did cotwins of males with high degrees of autistic traits, and were also more likely to display high scores themselves (Robinson et al., 2013).

Taylor, M. J., Lichtenstein, P., Larsson, H., Anckarsäter, H., Greven, C. U., & Ronald, A. (2016). Is there a female protective effect against attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder? Evidence from two representative twin samples. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(6), 504–512.

Zhen Sun 2020

Digital photography apps play as a line of flight to de/re-territorialize the presumed representational association between individuals and their photographic images. The images have become one of the multiplicities or becoming of individuals, either interacting with individuals, acting on individuals, or extending individuals’ disembodied experiences. This study seeks to develop alternative theoretical lenses on the role of digital personal photography in everyday life and the rhizomatic experiences that it generates.

Sun, Z. (2020). The role of digital personal photography: a theoretical exploration with Deleuze-Guattari approach. Lumina, 14(1), 97–110.

Lack of an Emoji Flag for Bisexuals & Asexuals

Among dating/cohabitating couples




Whacky, countercultural, and the only 1 Stop for Nonfiction on Medium.. Who cares what the algorithm says?

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Dr. Jarryd Willis PhD

Dr. Jarryd Willis PhD

I'm passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of others, & that's something I have the opportunity to do a professor & researcher.

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