Do Joint Parenting Laws Make Any Difference?

21 Pages Posted: 20 May 2011

Date Written: June 2011


Using a unique data set on divorcing couples, we analyze the effects of a change in legal entitlement on the outcomes for divorcing couples. In particular, we analyze the 1997 change to custody provisions in the State of Oregon. Prior to 1997, Oregon assigned custody, based on the discretion of the court, in the best interests of the child. This was changed to a presumption- of joint parenting, which manifests in the courts encouraging and imposing joint (or shared) custody in cases that otherwise would have had sole custody arrangements. We find that the law had several implications for divorce behavior: different custody outcomes (less sole custody to mothers, more sole custody to fathers), more mediation, longer times until the final divorce, and more acrimonious divorces (more abuse actions filed). We find no evidence that spouses attempted to bargain around the change of legal entitlement.

Suggested Citation

Allen, Douglas W. and Friedlander Brinig, Margaret, Do Joint Parenting Laws Make Any Difference? (June 2011). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 8, Issue 2, pp. 304-324, 2011, Available at SSRN: or

Douglas W. Allen (Contact Author)

Simon Fraser University ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
604-291-3445 (Phone)
604-291-5944 (Fax)

Margaret Friedlander Brinig

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
3157 Eck Hall of Law
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States
574-631-2303 (Phone)
574-631=8078 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics