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The little one, just 4, was curled at the top of her bed, leaving two thirds of it empty.Their dad and I had read the divorce books and rehearsed our speech about how none of this was their fault, that we loved them. He and I made a big calendar, as advised, with mom days in red and dad days in purple.In 1976, only 18 percent of these dads saw their children (ages 6-12) at least once a week. "It's likely that more fathers are seeing their children midweek for dinner or an overnight. "There's been a cultural shift—a father's involvement with their children is seen as important and positive," says Emery who is also the author of "The Truth About Children and Divorce" ().It's a change that really started in the 1990s," says Robert Emery, one of the coauthors of the 2009 Family Relations study (along with Paul R. The laws governing child support have also evolved and affected child-custody arrangements.
But Jocelyn Elise Crowley, author of "The Politics of Child Support in America" (), notes that women generally suffer more economic hardship after a divorce; even an incremental reduction in child-support payments could knock their standard of living down significantly.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 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.