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The Standard Custody Arrangement Is Sexist

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The Standard Custody Arrangement Is Sexist


When my marriage ended more than a decade ago, all parties assumed my ex and I would adopt the standard-issue divorce package: The kids would stay with me to provide the stability of a primary home, while he got weekend visits and I received child support. That was what the attorneys laid out as the default divorce recipe, what friends and relatives urged, and what I’d seen modeled in my own parents’ divorce and in countless TV and movie plots. That is what was considered a divorce “win” for moms. Everyone in my circle agreed: I got a good deal.

Fast-forward a few months and it became very clear that being a majority-time mom was hardly a good deal at all. In fact, this common set-up is the legally sanctioned version of June and Ward Cleaver. The female parent is shoehorned by way of a family court order and culture to be the primary caregiver, while the male parent is most often expected to be the primary breadwinner. More than three-quarters of custodial single parents are mothers, who often—just like I did—consider primary time with their children a victory.

Like the majority of the 16 million single mothers in the U.S., I soon became the sole provider for my household, and carried the overwhelming brunt of the logistical, emotional, and time labor required of childrearing. Building a career, finding time to exercise, relax, hang out with friends or date is exponentially harder when child care is disproportionately on one parent’s shoulders. This reality has been exasperated by the pandemic, which has hit single mothers harder than other groups.

Realizing the gender-stereotype modeling my children were observing sent a chill up my feminist spine, right along with my feminist rage at having to do it all. How was formally tasking single mothers with all the responsibilities of child care any sort of victory for women? While child support is often considered the equalizer in this arrangement, no sum of money can make that equation fair. Instead, I have come to understand that a truly equal arrangement in which time and responsibility for children are split 50-50 has the potential to close gender gaps for separated and divorced families, and change parenting culture for everyone.

For the past nine years I have had the unique opportunity to informally study hundreds of thousands of single moms through my work as a single mom blogger/podcaster/author, and time and again, anecdotes told this narrative: Single moms who share parenting 50-50 with their kids’ dads seemed to fare better financially, personally, and had better co-parenting relationships than moms with unequal parenting schedules. It makes sense: The more co-parenting equality a mother has, the more time she has to invest in her career, the more time she has for self-care, and the less rage she (and when I say she, I really mean me) has towards an ex who is not doing his share.

When I could not find any data to quantify whether or not these presumptions are true, I did my own research. Sure enough, my survey of 2,279 single moms conducted in September found a direct correlation between equality in the women’s time-sharing arrangements and their income and well-being. The poll found that single moms with a 50-50 parenting schedule are 54 percent more likely to earn at least $100,000 annually than moms whose kids are with them most of the time (such as weekend “visits” with the dad), and three times more likely to earn $100,000 than single moms with 100 percent time with their kids. This time-income connection is true for lower-earning moms, too: those with 50-50 parenting schedules are twice as likely to earn at least $65,000 than those with unequal schedules. Parenting-time equality also correlated with happier, prouder moms.

Single moms who share parenting 50-50 with their kids’ dads seemed to fare better financially, personally, and had better co-parenting relationships.

These findings make intuitive sense. But how do women who have been raised to believe that primary custody is a divorce “win” feel about equal schedules? What surprised me was that while just 13 percent of the moms I surveyed actually have a 50-50 schedule (98 percent of whom like it), a majority of the single moms I polled wish they had a 50-50 arrangement, and a full nine out of 10 believe they could earn more if they had a more equal parenting schedule. In other words: Single moms get that equally shared parenting is good for them.

But what about the kids? Turns out, assumptions that I bought into about what is best for children after a divorce were wrong. A review of 60 studies by Wake Forest University researchers concluded that children with separated and divorced parents fare best when they spend equal time with both parents, and a lack of father involvement is connected to dozens of negative outcomes for children. Unequal parenting schedules also contribute to dads checking out: Studies have found that dads who have minority-time custody are more likely to decrease or cease contact with their children.

Unequal parenting also hurts dads. Fathers, contrary to what popular culture depicts, are just as committed to parenthood as mothers, bond with children equally, and are happier and healthier when they are active in their childrens’ lives. One study by researchers at The University of the South–Sewanee found fathers felt overall happier, more competent, and satisfied with life than men without children.

If the connection between equal parenting, child welfare, and gender equality is so clearly the answer, what is the problem? The reason the majority of separated and divorced parents stick to the vintage kids-with-mom/visits-with-dads model is complicated: the legal industry profits from win-lose divorces, misunderstandings like I struggled with about the latest science on child development, and a culture that time and again defaults to traditional, sexist gender roles. I also believe white feminism has inadvertently largely overlooked single moms—half of whom are women of color—as a powerful agent for gender equality. After all, while it is impossible to legislate equality inside of a marriage, it is absolutely possible to legislate gender equality for the 20 million U.S. families with children—starting with family law reform.

Across the country, activists are working to pass bills that would create a rebuttable presumption of 50-50 parenting time when parents live apart, making equal parenting the default for single moms and dads, unless a parent is proven to be somehow unfit. Early data finds these laws are effective in minimizing conflict between parents—and popular with voters. In 2018 Kentucky enacted the country’s first law that mandates a presumption of equally shared parenting time when parents live separately. Two years later, Kentucky family court filings dropped by more than 11 percent, and filings that involved domestic violence declined by nearly 700 cases, a victory heralded by domestic violence advocates and judges in that state. By defaulting to an expectation of equality, family courts in Kentucky have made more room to serve families who are truly in crisis.

The greatest power of Kentucky’s law does not materialize when parents arguing over custody are ordered by a judge to split custody 50-50. The power of this movement is that it is changing our cultural DNA. Real change happens when attorneys inform splitting parents that equal parenting time is the new norm—so don’t bother fighting over it. This new assumption of equality trickles down via chit-chat on playgrounds, at neighborhood, barbeques and in mommy groups on social media—all of which normalize low-conflict, 50-50 parenting schedules because they are understood to be good for everyone: children, courts, fathers, mothers, grandparents and extended families, the economy—and equality.

Real change happens when attorneys inform splitting parents that equal parenting time is the new norm—so don’t bother fighting over it.

I can attest to this myself. It took years, and it was not always easy or low-conflict. But today my kids split their time equally between their dad’s home and mine. To make this possible, I had to let go of ideas that as the mother I am inherently the better parent, and I have to contend with sometimes missing my children. But I see my children benefiting from a dad who has stepped into his power as a parent. And they have a mom who is less stressed and who is thriving in her career. My son and daughter absorb by osmosis their male and female parents equally modeling public and domestic duties. As for me, for the first time since becoming a mother, I know that I am walking my feminist talk, and being the change I want to see.

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35 Unforgettable Royal Wedding Scandals, Shockers, and Bizarre Moments

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35 Unforgettable Royal Wedding Scandals, Shockers, and Bizarre Moments


Princess Stéphanie of Monaco married her bodyguard.

Grace Kelly’s daughter, Princess Stéphanie, tied the knot with Daniel Ducruet, who had previously been assigned as her bodyguard. When the couple wed, they already had two children together. At the time, The Associated Press described Ducruet as “a former pet shop salesman and fishmonger known to have a hot temper,” and noted that Stéphanie’s father, Rainier III, opposed the love connection. The wedding took place on July 1, 1995, at Monaco Town Hall. However, little more than a year later, the marriage ended in divorce when, per the AP, Ducruet “was caught by paparazzi in a poolside romp with a Belgian stripper.”

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All of Queen Rania of Jordan’s Best Fashion Moments

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the king and queen of jordan will visit the basilica of st francis of assisi


Franco OrigliaGetty Images

Since her husband, Abdullah II, became the King of Jordan in 1999, Queen Rania of Jordan has been hard at work. The Queen is best known for her advocacy in public health and education, as well as her supremely trendy sense of style. Throughout the years, Rania has proven that her sartorial tastes are impeccable. She has a penchant for monochromatic looks and pops of color, but also knows her way around a neutral palette. Read on for 63 of her best royal style moments here.

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April 17, 2019

Rania stepped out in a casual tank and pants combo during a tour of Jordan, and brightened it up with a coral jacket.

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March 29, 2019

For a visit to the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Queen wore a collared navy midi dress, a trendy Louis Vuitton handbag, and added dainty silver earrings.

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March 29, 2019

While visiting French President Emmanuel Macron, Queen Rania wore this bold monochrome look, which features a pleated midi dress and a tailored leather jacket.

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October 14, 2018

The Queen stunned in a belted pinstripe midi dress for the state opening of Jordan’s Parliament.

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June 25, 2018

On a visit to the White House with her husband, Rania wore a flowy blush pantsuit with a matching purse and pumps.

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May 22, 2018

Rania wore a gorgeous grey-blue pleated turtleneck dress to her daughter Princess Salma’s graduation.

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March 21, 2018

Rania chose a tailored grey blazer, turtleneck, and crisp white pants for a visit to the Netherlands. Her suede heels and elaborate woven handbag were perfect complements to her neutral outfit.

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March 20, 2018

Queen Rania showed us that she isn’t afraid of a bold pop of color. Here, she wore a bright blue swing coat with statement buttons and a white neck scarf over her grey dress.

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November 11, 2017

For this look, Rania paired a simple white top with a brightly patterned pencil skirt and coral handbag.

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August 11, 2017

For the Sovereign’s Parade at the Royal Military Academy, the Queen chose a bright pink quilted princess coat and matching heels. She accessorized with a black purse and silver jewelry.

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May 21, 2017

Rania glowed at the Fashion for Relief event at Cannes, wearing a delicate white dress with lace details and simple jewelry. She posed for a photo with Princess Beatrice and Sarah, Duchess of York at the event.

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December 3, 2016

The Queen wore an elegant A-line gown with pink silk details to a gala in Germany.

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November 11, 2016

Rania chose a simple black blazer and pencil skirt, drawing attention to her intricate turtleneck, for the state opening of Parliament in Amman, Jordan.

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September 11, 2016

Queen Rania stepped out in a beautiful crimson and blue gown for the Celebrity Fight Night gala.

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June 2, 2016

Rania arrived at the Great Arab Revolt centennial wearing a deep teal dress with gold embroidery, turquoise drop earrings, a cream quilted clutch, and black heels.

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May 25, 2016

For Jordan’s 70th Independence Day, Rania chose a belted maroon top with an extravagant red and white detailed skirt, maroon heels and silver accessories.

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May 18, 2016

Rania wore a soft pink swing coat adorned with a floral detail and black kitten heels alongside the Queen of Belgium during a visit to Brussels.

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May 2, 2016

The Queen turned heads on the red carpet in a feathered gown dotted with delicate silver gems by Valentino at the Manus x Machina Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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January 8, 2016

During a visit to London, Rania wore a hot pink pencil dress with a complementary belted coat and black pointed-toe heels.

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November 20, 2015

While in Spain, the Queen wore a black and white striped accordion skirt, a white blouse, and a mahogany wide belt.

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November 19, 2015

Here, Rania paired a trendy leather pencil skirt with a patterned blouse for a visit to the Prado Media Lab cultural center in Madrid, Spain.

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November 19, 2015

Queen Rania walked with Queen Letizia of Spain on the airport tarmac as she arrives in Madrid, Spain for a royal visit. Rania’s chic ensemble proves that even after a long plane ride, the royal is glowing. This look features a simple sky blue dress, a red and white woven wrap coat, and glittery heels.

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September 25, 2015

For the UN Foundation’s Gender Equality Discussion, Rania stepped out in an all-white ensemble, but it’s far from dull. The detail in her top, her snakeskin clutch, and her reflective pointed-toe heels make this a style to remember.

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August 26, 2015

Rania and her daughter walked the red carpet for the Medef Summer University Conference. The Queen wore a simple A-line dress and accented it with a Louis Vuitton bag and strappy heels.

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May 19, 2014

Here Queen Rania wore a black and white patterned top, a black midi skirt with a sheer overlay, and pumps.

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March 12, 2013

Rania and Camilla Parker Bowles pose for a photo during Prince Charles and Camilla’s royal tour in Jordan. Rania chose a bright blue and white knee-length dress adorned with a flower, and pearl drop earrings for the occasion.

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May 18, 2012

Queen Rania chose a classic flattering dress for a dinner at Buckingham Palace. The celebration was held in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, her 60th anniversary on the throne.

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May 18, 2012

Rania wore a white ruffled top with gold accents, paired with a fiery red pencil skirt, and her signature black pumps for an event at Windsor Castle in England. The royal was in town to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.

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April 2, 2012

The Queen was glowing on a visit to the Royal Palace in Italy, wearing an embroidered double-breasted trench coat, peep-toe heels, and a sleek black purse.

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June 19, 2010

Rania stepped out in a purple gown—the color of royalty—paired with a tiara and sash for Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling’s royal wedding in Stockholm, Sweden.

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How Your Favorite Models Got Discovered

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How Your Favorite Models Got Discovered


Karlie Kloss

Long before walking the biggest shows at fashion week, Kloss walked a charity fashion show in her Missouri hometown. Then, at the age of 15, she made her New York Fashion Week debut on Calvin Klein’s runway.

“I was discovered at 13 in a mall in St. Louis. I had never been on an airplane, actually.” she told CBS in 2015.

Since, Kloss has walked every major runway in New York, London, Milan, and Paris—along with starring in campaigns for brands like Oscar de la Renta, Versace, and Diane von Furstenberg. In 2015, she partnered with Flatiron School and Code.org to create a scholarship program, Kode with Klossy, which supports young girls who are interested in computer science to become leaders in tech.

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