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The change in support law has been applauded by fathers' rights groups.

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.

He attributes the fact that statistics still show that about 85 percent of primary physical custody goes to women, to the variety of factors leading fathers to cede custody to mothers.

Some dads do jump right into the single life, leaving the bulk of the child-raising to the mothers.

To make it work, we'd have to live near each other for the next 13 years, until the youngest girl was off to college.

It was a commitment not unlike marriage, and, given that feelings were still raw post-divorce, neither of us thought it would be easy. It can involve long commutes and budgets strained by the costs of maintaining two households.

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. See all of the in these slideshows 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.

"The lawyers are telling them, 'You can't fight this, you won't get it, and it will cost you a lot of money and heartache.'" While the numbers show that men who do fight for primary custody win as much as women do, Holstein says those cases are self-selecting: "They've been told in advance they have a chance at winning because they were Mr.

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