Opposing Shared Parenting: The Feminist Track Record

When questions of why we oppose the feminist movement and why we are men’s rights activists comes up one of the issues frequently overlooked is the fact that the largest feminist organization in America has consistently opposed shared parenting bills. These bills are designed to ensure that fathers by default have an equal amount of time with their children and remain a permanent fixture in their lives. Father’s rights groups have had to fight feminist organizations like The National Organization for Women (NOW) since at least 1986 for the right to shared custody. In 1986 newspapers reported that Noreen Connell, President of the New York State chapter of the NOW as opposing shared parenting.


In 2001 feminist groups in Canada refused to even sit at the same table as men during a consultation on changes to divorce laws due to shared parenting proposals being made by father’s rights groups. They also demanded a woman-only discussion on the issue. The National Post reported on this incident:

 Women’s groups who boycotted nationwide government consultations on changes to divorce law because they refused to sit at the same table as men could get the female-only hearing they have demanded. Although the consultations ended last month, the Justice Department and its provincial partners are considering a special session for “women’s equality-seeking organizations” that are fighting proposed changes to the federal Divorce Act. Those changes would give separated and divorced parents an equal say in raising their children under a new concept called shared parenting. The women’s groups are urging governments “not to cave into a father’s rights groups agenda.


In 2005 NOW stated their reasons for opposing shared  parenting so let’s take a look at the reasoning behind their opposition:

“Shared Parenting” is defined as “the award of custody to both parties so that both parties share equally the legal responsibility and control of such child and share equally the living experience in time and physical care of assure frequent and continuing contact with both parties, as the court deems to be in the best interests of the child, taking into consideration the location and circumstances of each party.” The assertion that “shared parenting is in the best interests of minor children” is on its face untrue… The following facts continue to be true with respect to mandatory joint custody of the children: * To arbitrarily reassign a child’s primary caregiver, or disrupt a child’s attachment to a primary caregiver creates an unstable, even traumatic situation for the children. * Increased father involvement does not necessarily result in positive outcomes for children.”

Their claim that increased father involvement does not result in positive outcomes for child is a bold faced lie. The Baltimore Sun informs us of the detrimental effects on children raised by one parent: “The negative impact on our children is dramatic. For instance, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:

  • 63 percent of teen suicides,
  • 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions,
  • 71 percent of high school dropouts,
  • 75 percent of children in chemical abuse centers,
  • 85 percent of those in prison,
  • 85 percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders
  • And 90 percent of homeless and runaway children.”

The effect of fatherlessness on girls is detrimental just as it is with boys and if NOW really cared about the female gender it would be interested in ensuring that fathers remained in the lives of their daughters to prevent effects such as the well-known increase in teen pregnancy associated with girls experiencing fatherlessness. NOW in their opposition statement also claimed that the bill imposed mandatory shared custody regardless of whether it was best for the child or not but the actual bill they were opposing never actually stated this as their purpose in the text of the bill. The actual bill laid out it’s goals:  Establishes the presumption in matrimonial proceedings for awarding shared parenting of minor  children in the absence of an allegation that shared parenting would be detrimental to the best interests of the child…  PURPOSE: To create a statutory presumption of joint custody for all minor children whose parents are no longer married, so that both parents can continue to share in the responsibilities and duties of the children`s upbringing…  The burden of proof that shared parenting would be detrimental is placed upon the parent requesting sole custody….  The first preference is for joint custody to be awarded by the court. If the court opts not to award joint custody it must state its reasons for denial. The order of joint custody may be amended by the court if it is shown that it would be in the best interests of the child. In 2009 NOW opposed shared parenting bill A00330 and lied about the bill making default shared custody mandatory AGAIN. The bill actually said that it’s goal was to created a presumption of default shared custody IF there was no valid evidence that doing so would be against the child’s best interest. NOW admitted that they are biased in favor of the mother having primary custody after divorce in their opposition statement.

As court-ordered arrangements imposed upon…embattled and embittered parents … [joint custody] can only enhance family chaos…. The National Organization for Women-New York State has always favored a primary caregiver (usually the mother) presumption to ensure stability and continuity of care for children…. Father’s rights groups are in the forefront of the push for legislation establishing a presumption in favor of joint custody…. Joint custody over the wishes of one parent facilitates using the children to maintain access and control over the other parent’s life.

Let’s take a look at the actual stated goal of the bill they were opposing: AN ACT to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to establishing a presumption of shared parenting of minor children in matrimonial proceedings  The provisions of this act establish a presumption, affecting the burden of proof, that shared parenting is in the best interests of minor children….  the court, on due consideration, [may] SHALL award the natural guardianship, charge and custody of such child to [either parent] BOTH PARENTS, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ALLEGATION THAT SUCH SHARED PARENTING WOULD BE DETRIMENTAL So as you can see from the text of the actual bill, NOW was lying through their teeth about the bill not considering all other factors before awarding shared custody. But this is just the tip of the iceberg concerning the feminist movement and NOW’s anti-family activity. They also opposed bills that would give families the option of mediation in the event of a divorce so that they would not have to deal with a nasty courtroom dispute that could result in grudges that could emotionally hurt the children in the family. Here is NOW’s statement on their opposition to the mediation bill and notice that they expressly state that one of the reasons they oppose it is because it often results in shared parenting:

 Mediation is a closed-door, non-appealable, non-enforceable system with no power to order disclosure of assets or hire experts, but instead relies on “trust.” Women’s access to the courts and enforcement of their rights should be expanded rather than denying them due process by mandating mediation in child custody and child support cases in the name of reforming the legal system….Almost all mediated agreements provide for joint custody or “shared parenting” without consideration of the best interest of the children.

The National Organization for Women is the largest, most powerful, feminist organization in the United States, the pressure they place on politicians makes a huge impact on what bills are passed and which bills are not passed. When debating about the evils the feminist movement have wrought, feminists need to be held accountable for depriving countless numbers of children from having fathers in their lives and by extension they need to be held, at least partly accountable, for the psychological mayhem that results from children not having adequate time with their dads.


Update: Here, in PDF form, is further documentation of NOW and other feminist groups’s decades-long campaign against shared parenting. If anyone tries to tell you it’s not feminists who oppose Shared Parenting, demand they answer this.

The NOW opposes bill to give fathers shared custody 2009

Instances of NOW opposing shared parenting bills in 2005 and 2009 along with the actual bills

Feminist and women’s groups oppose default joint custody bills 1986

Feminist groups oppose joint custody shared parenting

Feminist groups oppose shared parenting and refuse to sit at same table as men 2001

National Organization for Women opposes shared parenting joint custody bill 2010

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