Parental Responsibility -- A Social and Economic Analysis

By Keith Wessel

Draft Copy, September 20, 1993


            This paper presents the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act as an amendment to Chapter 767, of the Wisconsin State Code. If adopted, this act would fundamentally alter socialization patterns between men, women, and children, advance the goals of the feminist movement, and, provide fathers with the opportunity to become more involved in the lives of their children. It is assumed, that today, mothers provide a disproportionate share of the costs of raising children. The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act seeks to distribute these costs equally between parents. Footnote


            To understand this equitable cost distribution method, one must accept the premise that there is economic value to unpaid domestic work. Footnote In 1977 the Wisconsin Legislature adopted a no fault divorce act which required judges to "consider homemaking and child care contributions to marriages. In addition, the law narrowed the range of judicial discretion by creating a fifty/fifty presumption for property divisions." Footnote This legislation did not extend recognition of domestic contribution to the post divorce raising of children. Instead, the legislature enacted child support legislation which established criteria to determine what cash expenditures are required to raise children. Both parents were then required to meet half of these cash expenditures.

            Professor Fineman sees the cash needs approach to child support as detrimental to the advancement of women in the economic market. Once a marriage is broken,


[t]he chores still have to be done, children must be cared for, and a home must be established and maintained, but there are no longer two adults to divide the burdens. If women assume these responsibilities after divorce, as they do in the overwhelming majority of cases, (footnote omitted) they may need more assets or financial resources than their ex-spouses to have effective access to market opportunities. Footnote

            If we assume a system which expects mothers to provide the majority of child care, then fathers benefit by having free domestic services. Today, many fathers who want to take an equal share of caring for their children are denied that opportunity by courts or because of poor advice from their attorneys. When fathers do have physical placement (visitation) of their children for minimal periods of time they can spoil the children by playing "Disneyland Dad." By avoiding or being denied the burdens of being a parent, these fathers miss out on many of the valuable complexities of the parent-child relationship.

            If the system recognized the cost of the services to raise children provided by parents with primary placement (today typically mothers), and these parents were compensated for these services, then a more true market would evolve. Parents with primary placement could hire domestic servants which would allow them time to compete in the market. If the costs associated with domestic service were evaluated in a competitive market and post divorced parents with primary placement were adequately compensated, then these parents would require higher salaries before they would shift from providing domestic service to putting additional hours working outside the home. Social regulation which forced compensation for parents who take a disproportionate share of domestic responsibilities would thus impact the market, and reduce the pay inequity which today favors men.

            Today, many fathers do not have enough resources to pay their former spouse what it would cost to hire someone to provide the services required to take care of their children. If fathers took on more of the responsibility for providing domestic services personally, they would develop more complex relationships with their children, and better understand the demands of parenting, while mothers would have time to pursue careers, education, social or political activities.

            Today's child support system in Wisconsin perpetuates a system which expects women to take the greatest share of parenting responsibilities and places these women in the position of being financially dependent on men. Wisconsin fathers are often denied the opportunity to have a substantial parental relationship with their children. This results in fathers maintaining a great deal of personal independence, while at the same time providing them the opportunity to know their children casually, without taking equal responsibility for the costs of raising their children. The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act seeks to destroy the inequity of the current system.


I.         The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act

            The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act requires that parents take equal responsibility for the costs of raising their children. The Act begins with a presumption of a fifty/fifty sharing of physical placement of the children between the parents, and neither parent would make support payments to the other. This presumption does not apply if either parent is shown to be unfit. The parties may stipulate to a different placement arrangement under the following guidelines. A per diem cost for raising children, based on the costs of domestic service providers, food, clothing, medical insurance, shelter and entertainment, determined by analysis of actual market costs shall be established by the Department of Health and Human Services. The cost of domestic service providers shall include the cost of day, evening and overnight childcare, doing laundry, food preparation and clean up, chauffeuring children and any other services required when one has children. The parties may stipulate that one parent will pay the other a minimum of 90% of the per diem cost of raising the children, for any days above 183 per year, for which the non paying spouse takes physical placement of the children. Taxes and social security shall be deducted and paid for the portion of this per diem cost which is service related. All divorcing parents will be required to take a parenting class.


            A.       What the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act will do

            The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act is market driven and will be effective for any parents who are concerned about their good credit rating and their standing in the community. Most divorcing parents will stipulate in their divorce decree to divide child care responsibilities equally. Parents are given the option to hire each other to care for their children. The parent who provides care for the children for any days in excess of 183 days per year will be paid by the other parent at the established per diem rate, for any day(s) that care is provided above the 183 day threshold. Parents may not stipulate to less than 90% of parity in order to protect a submissive spouse from a dominate spouse. The parties may negotiate a settlement under which a paying spouse would pay more than 100% of the per diem cost. The 90% minimum reflects incalculable benefits which emanate from the love of the children. This benefit may be significant enough that some spouses would accept a greater share of the responsibility for their children.

            Under this act, many divorcing fathers will make the economic choice to take care of their children rather than attempt to negotiate with their ex-wife, to pay her to provide these services. Many divorcing fathers will not be in a position to negotiate any other arrangement because they do not have sufficient income to afford the true cost, including the cost of services, involved in raising children. This will place men in circumstances similar to those faced by many women under the current child support system with the exception that they will only be required to take care of their children for 182 days per year.


            B.        The Act seeks to improve parenting skills and increase societal concern for the well-being and protection of children

            There is some concern, given years of social patterns which allowed men to be free of the responsibilities of parenting, that men do not have the skills necessary to be good parents. This concern is addressed by recognition of many dedicated and devoted fathers. Inflammatory media coverage of abusive men presents a distorted picture of the typical father. It is well known that the media focuses on negative news and that positive news is seldom covered.

            The fear of child abuse, neglect, or, lack of parental skill, is addressed by the additional safeguard of requiring divorcing parents to take a parenting class. By requiring divorcing parents to take parenting classes, skilled and unskilled parents will be provided the opportunity to learn to be better parents in an environment where parents from all walks of life can share positive parenting techniques. Instructors will be expected to alert the court of parents, men or women, who present a risk to their children. Parenting classes will thus supplement the work done today by family court counselors and Guardians ad Litem. Having children in two homes will give both parents the ability to watch for suspect behavior. These procedures will provide parents and child protection workers with additional tools to show the court that a parent may be unfit, and thus void the fifty/fifty presumption.

            Many of the skills required to be a good parent come from common sense. June Stephenson's study of women raised in different environments, including the single father home, suggests that fathers adapt quickly to the needs of their children. Footnote Stephenson's study shows that not only do fathers adapt to the role of being a parent, but they change their own social behavior as well, by becoming more nurturing as individuals. Many would see this kind of social change in men as advantageous to society in general. As more men assume the role of parent, they will communicate among each other and with mothers with resultant improvement in parenting skills. Ultimately, as more fathers take an active role in the lives of their children, these fathers will become more attached to, and more protective of their children.


            C.        The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act will not solve all of societies parenting needs

            The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act, standing alone, will substantially alter fundamental societal norms. It will not, however, solve the problem that some parents will continue to abandon their children. Some parents at the margin, who, under today's system enter the underground economy to avoid paying child support may be inspired to take responsibility under this Act. Others will continue to bolt and run. I have provided complimentary revisions of the Tax code and AFDC rules which address this problem. See page 12.

            The Act will not resolve the problem of poverty for women and children. It will, however, provide mothers with more time to pursue careers and/or further their education.

            The Act will not compensate for parents who have taken themselves out of the work place during their marriage to raise children. These parents will be disadvantaged in the market place and I offer a complimentary revision of rules regarding maintenance to address this problem. See page 14.

            Finally, the Act will not address the needs of alternative families, particularly those denied the right to marry. Footnote


II.       Why the current system fails


            The most significant problem with the current child support system is that it is inequitable because it does not recognize the unremunerated work typically provided by mothers. The current system nonetheless sends a message to the general public that it is a system designed to support children. Given this message mothers are seen as dependent on men for their financial support. When a mother in an intact marriage works outside the home, she is seen as the secondary income earner. Our society, which assumes that women are supported by men, has developed a system of inequitable compensation for work. Is it any wonder that there is resentment between men and women given this approach?

            Women resent the current system because they know how much effort it takes to raise children. They often complain that men do not understand this.

            Men resent the system because the money they spend for child support is funnelled through a woman they are emotionally angry with. Some child support paying fathers complain that when they pick up their children for visitation, the children are wearing worn out clothing, while mom is dressed to the hilt ready to take advantage of a rare opportunity to go out without hiring a babysitter. These men assume that the mother of their children is misappropriating money which is intended to be spent on the children.


            The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act would eliminate much of this resentment. First, it would force a substantial number of men to take care of their children. These fathers would begin to understand how much work is involved, and they would share that information with men who are not similarly situated. Because these men will be spending their child support dollars directly on their children they will have no complaint as to how mothers spend money. The divorcing couple who agrees to pay one parent to raise the children will recognize that part of the money paid is for salary and thus the income earner will be expected to spend that money on personal needs. Additionally, when the costs of services are recognized, the parent who takes care of the children will have more adequate resources and thus priority decisions regarding expenditures will become less crucial. Payors under this system may still harbor some resentment, nonetheless, their peers will point out that it was their own decision not to raise the children.


            Because of the resentment men feel about funneling child support funds through their ex-wives, some men have rationalized that child support payments are not fair to men. As a result men who fail to pay support face less stigmatization in the community of men. Under the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act, as more men take responsibility for their children, and that responsibility becomes more directly connected to the children, societal assumptions will change. Men will feel more peer pressure when they abandon their children.

            The current child support system disrupts the market in unintended ways. A case study and the work of Professor Chambers illustrate this point.

            Bill and Susan H. (not their real names) were divorced in their mid twenties after having one son. Bill is illiterate and marginally capable as a plumber. During their marriage Bill worked as a janitor at a Madison hospital and the family received a Section 8 housing grant. When they divorced, Susan went on AFDC and Bill kept the Section 8 housing. They shared parenting of their son fifty/fifty. Because Susan was on AFDC, IV-D lawyers convinced the court that Bill should pay 17% of his income in child support. Bill continues to work at the hospital making about $8.00/hour with benefits. He has voluntarily reduced his hours to the point that he makes less than $7,000 per year, which for him is the best return on his investment of time. If he worked more hours he would need to put his son in day care, and pay more in child support, rent and taxes. Because he sees no possibility of taking home more money by working more hours he is content to work less than half time particularly given the importance he gives to spending time with his son. Ultimately, society will pay for Bill's retirement given that all the money he earns is spent immediately. If Bill did not have a child support obligation he would have incentive to work more hours and might earn enough that he would no longer need Section 8 housing assistance.


            The child support system in Wisconsin uses a percentage of income formula to determine the amount of child support payments. This formula is designed to establish cash expenditures for the needs of the children which will be compatible with the lifestyle of the payor. Little is gained from an economic sense, by equalizing the lifestyles of children with both parents.

            Professor David L. Chambers sees equalization of lifestyle as the most important aspect of any child support system. Footnote Citing a study by Professor Garrison which found the average income of the payor in a divorcing family in New York at $40,000, Professor Chambers explains what he believes it would "take to put the mother and two children at the same standard of living with the father after divorce if the two households shared his income of $40,000. It would take an order not of twenty-five percent of the father's income, but an order of at least sixty percent of his income." It seems rather silly that a professor of law would come up with such an uninformed suggestion. For example, in 1992, in Wisconsin, a taxpayer who earns $40,000 per year and declares three dependents will pay $5,479 in Federal Taxes, $3,000 in social security and $2,405 in state taxes. Footnote If this taxpayer were required to pay 60% or $24,000 of his or her income in child support, then the taxpayer would end up with $5,116 per year to live on. How Professor Chambers sees this as an equitable distribution is very hard to understand.

            It is this kind of thinking that keeps the current child support system from functioning effectively. Given Professor Chambers example, and assuming the widely accepted view in the child support community that payors do not care about their children's well-being, then as a rational economic actor, the taxpayer in Professor Chambers example would be better off to work half-time and earn only $20,000. This is true because a taxpayer who in 1992, in Wisconsin, earns $20,000 per year and declares three dependents would pay $1,429 in Federal Taxes, $1,500 in social security and $853 in State taxes. After paying 60% of gross income in child support, this taxpayer would be left with $4,218 per year to live on. Therefore the only benefit to this taxpayer from working full-time versus half-time would be the difference of $5,116 and $4,218 and any emotional benefit received from knowing the children are getting more money. Footnote

            Percentage formulas and AFDC regulations create disincentives to financial productivity. Under the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act, each parent has incentive to earn as much money as possible with all benefits accruing to themselves, their children, and, the government (i.e. taxes).


            The notion that the households of divorced parents should have similar standards of living reflects governmental paternalism and denies individuals the right to choose their lifestyle. Why, for example, should the parent with the highest income in a family of two divorcing attorneys -- one who seeks satisfaction by earning money as a corporate attorney and the other who seeks satisfaction by serving the public -- be forced to equalize their lifestyles post divorce? Are not children better off when they learn from the values of each parent regardless of whether their standard of living is the same?


            Lastly, the current child support system fails because it encourages an underground cash economy.


III.      How the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act will affect the labor market

            The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act will redistribute income from men to women, and employers will be forced to accommodate employee obligations to spend time taking care of domestic responsibilities.

            As more fathers become responsible for the true costs of raising their children, they will react in various ways. Some fathers will reduce the number of hours they work to be able to invest their time in domestic work. This will reduce the supply of labor. As the supply of labor is reduced employers will increase pay to attract new workers. As mothers have more time available to work they will fill some of this new demand for labor.

            Other fathers will hire domestic help. As the demand for domestic help increases, buyers of domestic help will pay higher wages. Both men and women will then fill this demand. As workers fill these positions, they will leave other positions and thus reduce the supply of labor in other labor markets. Employers will increase wages to attract labor to these other markets.

            Other fathers will contract, when they divorce, to pay their former spouse to care for their children. These mothers will then be able to choose to hire help, or do the work themselves. Because they will be paid at competitive market rates, these mothers will demand higher wages to fill the markets increased demand for labor.

            Divorced mothers will have more hours available to work when fathers take increased responsibility for the care of their children. These mothers will thus have more time to supply the increased demand for labor discussed above.


IV.      Who will benefit under the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act?


            A.       Children


            Children will benefit by the establishment of more complex and nurturing relationships with their fathers. Children will also have better relationships with their mothers because the Act will relieve stress from the mother's home by providing mothers time alone. As mothers become self sufficient by having more time to work, children will benefit because self supporting mothers will feel more secure and better about themselves.


            Today many children lose contact with a parent when parents live in different states. The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act would give parents a more realistic view of the cost of moving out of state. Under the Act, if the per diem cost of raising a child for 182 days amounted to $20,000 and a parent, who shared placement, was offered a $10,000 raise to move out of state, there would be no economic incentive to move. Under the current system, only a percentage of the increased earnings would be attached for child support and therefore the only cost inhibitor to moving is the emotional loss from not having contact with the child. By encouraging fathers to have emotional relationships with their children, the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act will also add emphasis to the emotional cost of losing contact with a child.


            Children will also benefit from the reduction in resentment that exists because of child care provider anger at the current inequitable system and payors anger about funnelling money through the provider.

            Children will continue to experience the disruption of having two homes. However, in the long run, as the true costs of parenting become understood, parents will become more responsible with their decisions to have children. Better gender relations should occur given that men would be taking more domestic responsibility and women would have better opportunities in the market. Ultimately, one would hope that this would lead to less divorce and disruption for children.


            B.        Women


            Because the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act will provide many divorcing mothers with half of the year free from the burdens of raising children, these mothers will have time to focus their energy on their careers, education, social life or political activity. One woman told me that she obtained a forgotten level of sanity when she converted her child placement arrangement to fifty/fifty.

            Women in general will benefit from mothers having time to expand their careers, because recognition of women in the market will improve for various reasons. First, mothers without the benefit of child support payments will become more assertive in the job market. Second, the notion that women need men for financial stability will be decreased.

            Women will also benefit from increased demand for labor. As more men become responsible for the domestic needs of their children, some will withdraw some of their time from the labor market, others will hire domestic services at market rates. As demand for domestic service increases, rate of pay for these services will increase. Increased pay for domestic service will draw both men and women away from other types of employment, creating an increased demand with resultant increase pay in these other labor markets.


            C.        Men


            Men will benefit as more men become active parents. Men will learn to appreciate their children and as a result develop closer relationships with their children. Men will also benefit because women will appreciate them for their efforts as parents and homemakers. Men in general will benefit from the reduction of gender conflict. Men in two income families will benefit from an increase in combined income. Although some men will suffer a reduction in earnings, men in general will benefit from a job market which recognizes that workers need time to be with their families.


            D.       Society


            Society in general will benefit from the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act. When the true costs of raising children is understood, and that cost is placed equally on men and women, men will think more critically about their sexual behavior. This will be particularly true if my complimentary suggestions for Tax code revisions are adopted. See page 12.


            As noted above, June Stephenson's work has shown that men develop more complex and nurturing personalities when they are forced to take care of their children. As men learn what is involved in taking care of children, they will learn to appreciate the work women have been doing for years. This will serve to reduce the tension between the sexes.


            As more employees have responsibility for their children, employers will be forced to accommodate trips to the doctor, provide child care and in general meet the needs of parents. Under today's system,


[f]or many women, getting pregnant means risking their job or career because of the lack of adequate maternity and childcare leave policies. Conventional methods of calculating corporate policy seem to indicate such provisions are not profitable, and so they are absent in many private businesses. Thus, a minimum uniform maternity policy would have to be mandated by the federal government. Footnote

Admittedly, the Federal government has adopted the Family and Medical Leave bill since Ms. Haber presented her paper. The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act will further the market's understanding of the needs of parents with resultant market driven solutions.


V.       Who will be disadvantaged under the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act?


            A.       Men


            Because men will be expected to take equal responsibility for their children, men will lose a great deal of independence and autonomy. Their lives will become more stressful as they attempt to balance career and parenting responsibilities. Many may reduce their work load to accommodate their stress and thus their earnings will decrease. Their ability to break through to upper levels of management will be reduced. Those who negotiate to pay their ex-spouse to care for the children will face substantially higher child support costs than under today's system.


            B.        Women


            Divorced mothers will lose their dominate parental position over their children. In general, divorced mothers will not receive child support payments from fathers. Some women who would prefer to be stay-at-home mothers after their divorce, will have to seek employment in a world were they are paid less than men for comparable work.


VI.      Amnesty


            Under today's child support system, many men find themselves on the run, living on the underground economy. The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act, coupled with changes in AFDC (see page 13), will provide opportunities for lower income men to take responsibility for their children.

            Those fathers who today are on the run, should be encouraged to come in and take responsibility for their families. Some form of amnesty should be considered. I am not suggesting that all arrears be erased, rather, I am suggesting that a rational approach be established so that these men can find a way to afford to support their children. Getting these men to take some responsibility is better for mothers, children and society, than keeping them on the run and avoiding any responsibility for their children.


VII.    Complimentary law reform


            A.       Tax Code


            The burdens of raising children are immense and no parent should escape responsibility for their children. When a parent refuses to be responsible for a child, that parent should be taxed and those taxes should be earmarked to AFDC.

            The Tax Code could be designed to allow a basic level of existence before taxes would be assigned, perhaps somewhere in the range of $8,000-12,000. Once an irresponsible parent exceeds this income a substantial tax surcharge should be charged until the taxpayer meets the per diem cost of raising the children. By earmarking this tax surcharge to AFDC, the responsible parent will get needed support to raise the child.


            This system would create separate tax table columns for the taxpayer with non-supported dependents. The taxpayer would use the appropriate column to determine taxes owed. To provide economic incentive for the taxpayer to increase earnings, a percentage of the earnings above the poverty level should go to the tax payer. Because it is unlikely that many irresponsible parents will be able to meet the financial needs of their children prior to the child turning eighteen, this tax should be a life sentence, or at least collected until the taxpayer pays an amount equivalent to the per diem amount necessary to support his or her dependents with interest.


            This approach, like the current child support system will encourage the underground economy. Here, however, the burden to collect from the underground is placed on the Department of Revenue, and not on responsible parents. As word spreads that there is a life-time tax sentence for irresponsible parents, people will give consideration to this in relation to their sexual activities. Some will continue to choose the underground economy, however, for many, there will be times when they want to earn a legitimate living. Additionally, the Department can make cash payments unattractive by assessing substantial fines to employers who participate in a cash economy.

            Irresponsible parents should be encouraged to take responsibility. This can be accomplished by allowing the delinquent irresponsible parent to negotiate a time sharing arrangement with the responsible parent. The burden to show that reestablishment of a parent-child relationship would be in the best interest of the child, must be placed on the irresponsible parent. If some reconciliation can be worked out, some tax relief is in order. Perhaps revising upward the base level before the surcharge is added will provide returning parents the financial opportunity to function as parents. There should be no tax forgiveness for the years of irresponsibility and once the children turn eighteen, the base should revert back, and full surcharge paid until all unpaid support is collected with interest.


            B.        AFDC

            Today, when a couple receiving AFDC separates, or if one of the parents applies for AFDC during or after separation, AFDC immediately moves IV-D attorneys to get a child support order against the secondary parent. The secondary parent goes immediately into arrears even if there is no ability to pay. Under the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act, if the parents share the child raising responsibilities, neither would owe the other child support.

            Given the change in physical placement which is a presumption of the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act, the Wisconsin AFDC regulations should be changed so that both parents are eligible for an AFDC grant. Much has been written about the failure of AFDC and the difficulty recipients face for moving into the work force. The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act provides potential for AFDC reform in that many AFDC recipients who divorce under the Act will have half of their time available to work. The Act will thus provide impetus for both parents to join the work force, as opposed to the current system that puts one parent on AFDC indefinitely and places the other in the position of being so far behind in child support payments that life on the run, living in the underground economy, becomes an attractive option.

            In the event that one parent absolutely abandons responsibility for the children under the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibilities Act, AFDC should accommodate for the loss to the responsible parent. By providing a one-half child support grant to the responsible parent with no qualification based on income until the children are eighteen years old, the responsible parent will be equipped to compete in the market. The state will thus assume the responsibility for the irresponsible parent while at the same time making every effort to collect from that parent. See proposal to use Tax code to collect from irresponsible parents at page 12. If the responsible parent is also eligible for AFDC a second half-time grant should be provided until the parent becomes employed, or no longer qualifies under income/asset standards.


            C.        Maintenance and/or Divorce Insurance


            The need for maintenance must be viewed in a generational context. Societies expectation prior to 1970 that husbands support their wives and children has changed because of the Women's Movement and because changes in the economy now make two incomes a necessity for many families. Many women who married prior to 1970 never developed marketable skills and either society or their spouses must provide for them after divorce. Maintenance for these women can be seen as a form of affirmative action which will provide some with the opportunity to obtain marketable skills, but we must also accept that many women in this group never will become adequately employable.


            As more families become two-income households, society has recognized the value that accrues to children when they have a parent at home. The Federal Family Leave Act provides parents some opportunity to be at home with their children.


            Parents should be encouraged to contract within their marriages so that one parent, or both, spelling each other, can spend time at home with the children. When a marriage contract establishes one of the parents as the stay-at-home parent, this parent will lose economic viability in the market place, and our system must be prepared to compensate if the marriage ends in divorce. I can think of at least two approaches.


            First, when a divorcing parent can show that the parties agreed that one parent would stay home, maintenance should be awarded, at least until the stay-at-home parent can become economically viable.


            Second, couples who choose to have a parent stay home with their children should be encouraged, if not mandated, to carry insurance for the possibility that the stay-at-home parent will become economically disadvantaged at divorce.


            In 1984, presidential candidate Gary Hart advocated a similar type of insurance for workers. The individual training account advocated by candidate Hart would provide funding for workers if they became economically nonviable. This funding would be available for education or relocation. Hart's proposal was designed after social security payroll deductions. Using this design, employers would match a percentage of the employees wages which would be deducted from wages and forwarded to the insurance account. This type of program could be developed and expanded so that parents who agree that one will stay at home would pay a larger percentage of their income into the fund than the average worker. This is only one design for an income maintenance insurance program. Given the benefits to children of having a stay-at-home parent, more consideration should be given to designing divorce insurance.



            The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act requires that divorcing parents take equal responsibility for their children after the divorce. This is accomplished by the expectation that fathers and mothers will take physical placement of their children and provide all necessary services needed for the well-being of the children, for one-half of the days of each year. In the event that one of the parents moves to another state, is unfit, or for any reason refuses to take responsibility for the care of his or her children, the Act requires that parent to pay the other to provide the needed services.


            The Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act will fundamentally change the way we care for our children. There are substantial benefits for men, women, and children, when both parents take responsibility for their children. A heavy burden previously unknown to many men will result from passage of this act. Many unknown benefits will also accrue to these men.


            Not only will the Equal Sharing of Parental Responsibility Act affect the way we raise and support our children, it will have a fundamental affect on the work place. Women will have more time to compete for better jobs, and those mothers who are paid by fathers to care for their children will demand higher wages before they will take employment outside of the home. As more workers take actual physical responsibility for their children, both mothers and fathers will force employers to recognize and meet the needs of parents.