Costs and benefits of primary custody and co-parenting

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2021 | Family Law

Asserting that certain family law decisions are sexist is nothing new. In fact, how most child custody matters were resolved in the past several decades created a norm that the mother would maintain custody of the children while the father continued to provide for them financially while only seeing the children on alternating weekends. While these child custody arrangements still occur in Colorado and elsewhere, the reality is that it can be far more beneficial for both parents if joint custody is ordered and a co-parenting relationship is formed.

Setbacks for primary caregivers

For some mothers, obtaining primary custody may look like and feel like a win. However, some mothers or parents in this situation may view it as a greater challenge than they initially thought. The majority of the 16 million single mothers in the U.S. have primary custody of their children. This also means that they are the sole provider for the household. Even with child support, this can quickly become overwhelming.

Being the primary caregiver requires much logistical, emotional, time and labor. It is also found to be much harder for these women to build a career, allocate time to exercise, spend time with friends and family, relax and even date when child care is disproportionately on the shoulder of one parent. Again, child support can ease this, but it does not make the equation fair, as one parent is truly taking on the vast majority of the child rearing.

Benefits of co-parenting

In contrast, it was found that single moms that are in a 50-50 parenting relationship with the father seem to fare better financially, personally and had a better relationship with their co-parent when compared to single moms with primary custody. This highlights that an equal co-parenting arrangement helps provide more time to invest into a career and self-care. In fact, it was found that single moms in an equal co-parenting arrangement are 54% more likely to earn at least $100,000 annually than single mothers with primary custody.

It should be noted that a primary custody arrangement may be the best situation for the parents and children. Additionally, some co-parenting relationships are challenging and could also create challenges. Thus, it is important to consider the full picture when navigating a custody matter.

Much like there is no perfect way to parent in a marriage, there is no perfect way to parent post-divorce. There is no one size fits all custody arrangement; however, there are ways to positively and effectively navigate the situation. Thus, it is important to consider the details of your family law matter to determine the custody arrangement that is most suitable and considers the best interests of the children.