Ukrainian wives discovering the superiority of being married to the German taxpayer

Western Ukraine is safe enough for elderly Americans to visit (example). Friends of friends go about their daily work there without any thoughts of becoming a war casualty. One guy, however, misses his wife and kids (elementary school age). They fled to Germany during the early days of the war, taking 100 percent of the family savings with them. Now the wife is established in the German welfare system, getting per-child payments, and has discovered how much more pleasant life can be without a husband in the house (does Germany have Tinder?). The father has sought to recover the children at least, but a German court agreed with the wife that Ukraine is not safe enough for anyone to live in (though the Ukrainian mom and teenage son whom I wrote about in April 2022 moved back long ago).

In the pre-globalized pre-welfare-state world, a live husband with a good income would become more valuable in the event of a war that killed a lot of working-age men. But in our current world, the husband, despite being a high-status professional in Ukraine, became surplus when he couldn’t compete with the German government (and German Tinder?).

Context from the BBC:

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I need some English lessons

“Mustard’s Ex-Wife Demands Over $80k Per Month In Child Support” (HipHopDX) has me wondering if the English language has moved on without me.

The article starts off simple:

DJ Mustard’s ex-wife has reportedly demanded the producer pay her over $80,000 a month in child support. … Chanel Thierry filed an order to a California judge on issues of child support, custody, spousal support, attorney’s fees, … he and Chanel Thierry had signed a prenuptial agreement prior to their 2020 wedding.

In other words, a Californian hopes to bank roughly $1 million/year tax-free in child support (straightforward under California family law), a claim that wouldn’t be impaired by a prenuptial agreement barring alimony, property division, etc.

Where it gets confusing are the public Instagram posts from the mom.

How is it possible to fit three children and an adult driver into a Lamborghini? I haven’t even been able to get myself into one. Maybe she means the absurd Lamborghini SUV?

What does “My Legs Move For The Bag” mean?

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Getting half of someone’s earnings without going to family court

The U.S. has been the world leader in enabling a plaintiff to go to family court and obtain half (or more) of a defendant’s future earnings (see Real World Divorce and a recent enhancement for alimony and child support plaintiffs in Maskachusetts).

This week, however, we’ve learned of a way to get half of a target’s earnings without needing to walk down to the courthouse. From the Righteous, “United States Women’s National Team earns more money from men’s World Cup than its previous two women’s tournaments” (CNN):

The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) earned more money from its male equivalent reaching the knockout stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar than it did from winning its own tournaments in 2015 and 2019.

“This is a truly historic moment,” US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement in May. “These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world.”

“Male equivalent”? Aren’t the male equivalents of the USA Women the local 14-year-old boys’ teams? (“FC Dallas under-15 boys squad beat the U.S. Women’s National Team in a scrimmage” (CBS))

Let’s check the Deplorables… “World Cup 2022: US women’s soccer team earns nice payday thanks to men’s win over Iran” (Fox Business):

The U.S. men’s national team defeated Iran 1-0 on Tuesday to move onto the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time since 2014.

While the entire U.S. cheered on Christian Pulisic and company in the exciting defeat of their final Group B opponent, it was the U.S. women’s soccer team that really won big without having to put a cleat on.

The U.S. men’s team is guaranteed a payout of $13 million for making it to the knockout stage of the World Cup, and because the U.S. women’s team struck a historic deal to receive equal pay with the men and split prize money 50/50, they are guaranteed at least $6.5 million.

The prize for the men making it to the round of 16 is more than the women earned for winning the 2015 and 2019 World Cups combined. According to Yahoo Sports, the women’s team earned $2 million in 2015 and $4 million in 2019.

Who has been watching the World Cup? I’ve got the cable TV box, which sits powered off for months at a time, programmed to record all of the games. Which ones are worth reviewing?

One thing that I’ve noticed is that “” is an advertiser inside the stadium. How is this company different from what Sam Bankman-Fried was running? It is an exchange and holds crypto on behalf of customers and also issues its own coin? Wouldn’t users worry about being Bankman-Frieded?

I also noticed that Google is a huge advertiser. How is this consistent with the company’s commitment to social justice? Wikipedia says “Sexual acts of male homosexuality are illegal in Qatar, with a punishment for all convicts of up to three years in prison and a fine, … The Qatari government does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil partnerships, nor does it allow people in Qatar to campaign for LGBT rights.”

Volkswagen stopped advertising on Twitter because 1 in 100,000+ tweets contained some words that are sometimes used in an anti-2SLGBTQQIA+ context (stats), but it is enthusiastically advertising in partnership with Qatar.

Today was a sad day for the USA Women as the players whose income they are tapping failed to prevail over the Netherlands, a country with a smaller population than Greater New York City, my Dutch friend pointed out (he is not a fan; “soccer is traditionally a sport of the lower classes here”).

Why is the World Cup worth watching? The players don’t usually play together on a team, right? Each national team is hastily assembled from among city-affiliated teams, right? How can these games stir as much passion among fans as regular soccer games among European or Brazilian cities? What would happen if Fußball-Club Bayern München could enter the World Cup? Would the city team beat all of the national teams due to general coherence and experience playing together? Or are the national teams stronger because they assemble stars from many city teams?

One of the new stadiums from the official Qatari web site:

The site also has a guide to cultural norms:

People can generally wear their clothing of choice. Shoulders and knees should be covered when visiting public places like museums and other government buildings. Swimwear is commonly worn at hotel beaches and pools.

Qatar has a very family friendly culture. Children are welcome in almost all premises, including restaurants, malls, cultural establishments and fan zones, all day and late into the evening.

Public displays of affection are not part of local culture, but making new friends and celebrating together are.

How about cultural appropriation? Justin Trudeau would be safe here:

While international visitors and residents wear a wide variety of clothing styles, Qatari citizens usually wear traditional attire. Visitors are welcome to wear traditional Qatari clothing if they choose to.

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Practical tips for incels from the Gisele Bündchen-Tom Brady household

Happy National Work and Family Month. Nobody is more accomplished at working and having a family than Tom Brady, right? Let’s consider “Why Gisele Bündchen is right to ‘quiet quit’ her marriage to Tom Brady” (Journal of Venator Bidenus):

Gisele Bündchen, wife of legendary quarterback Tom Brady, is said to be fuming that he is still playing football after retiring at the end of last season — and then “unretiring” six weeks later.

The supermodel hinted at her disappointment to Elle magazine, saying “I’ve done my part, which is [to] be there for [Tom]. I focused on creating a cocoon and a loving environment for my children to grow up in and to be there supporting him and his dreams.”

But now her support seems to have dried up, with Gisele taking solo trips to Costa Rica and, most recently, New York, while skipping Brady’s first game of his third season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In short, the Brazilian stunner has been “quiet quitting” her marriage — and many of us wives and mothers of a certain age can relate. At some point, the job of running a household, raising kids and supporting a husband’s career while keeping the romance alive can feel like a burden. Especially during the pandemic. Who among us can honestly say they haven’t fantasized about taking a break and finally putting ourselves first?

And while Gisele certainly has more help than most of us managing the household, that doesn’t make it any easier, one expert said.

Invisible labor isn’t necessarily the physical things that need to get done,” said Gemma Hartley, author of “Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women and the Way Forward.”

“It’s noticing, planning and delegating. If you’re not the one that’s doing the work yourself, it’s overseeing it and making sure it gets done. Women see it as their responsibility, so even when we do delegate this work, it still seems to stay on our plates.”

That might mean she just needs an extended vacation. But it could also spell divorce.

Many professional working mothers with husbands unwilling to take on the demands of the household “have a tough choice,” writes author Lara Bazelon in her book, “Ambitious Like a Mother.” “Radically compromise who they are and what they want to stay in the marriage, or leave.”

A 2015 study by the American Sociological Association found that women initiate 69% of divorces, and among college-educated women, it’s 90%.

Instead of following his joy, perhaps it’s time Tom started giving his wife the support she needs — before it’s too late.

There is much to love in the above. My favorite is the idea of “invisible labor”. I am going to use that one to explain what do to keep our own tract mansion going.

For incels, the good news is that a loving female partner can be obtained and maintained. All that the incel needs to do is be (1) in possession of more charisma than Tom Brady, (2) more successful financially than Tom Brady, (3) in better physical condition than Tom Brady, and (4) more successful in his career than Tom Brady.

Separately, who has been to a Tampa Bay home game? I want to take the kids to see this potentially-soon-to-be-discarded-by-the-wife hero during his final season. What are some logistics suggestions for Raymond James Stadium? (One plan: see the giant flamingo sculpture at the Tampa main airport, which does not require going through security.)


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How is Amber Heard doing as a philanthropist?

I’m wondering if the Depp v. Heard trial has shed any light on one of America’s more unusual philanthropists. It is not uncommon for an American to have sex with a rich person (oftentimes his/her/zir/their boss!), sue that person for divorce, alimony, child support, and property division, and then be celebrated in our media as a great philanthropist using the money obtained via having sex and going to family court.

Amber Heard was unusual in that she stated that her only motivation for seeking cash in family court was philanthropic. She promised to donate all of her profits from the one-year marriage to hard-working Johnny Depp. From Amber Heard: brave and financially independent (2016):

“Amber Heard ‘suffered through years of physical and psychological abuse’ by Johnny Depp, lawyers say” is a Washington Post article in which Ms. Heard is characterized as “a brave and financially independent woman” who is besieged because the defendant whom she sued has a “relentless army of lawyers.”

Although the only thing sought by her original lawsuit (previous posting includes a link to the Petition) is money (property division, alimony, and attorney’s fees), “none of [the plaintiff’s] actions are motivated by money.” (Amber Heard is also seeking to be divorced, of course, but California is a no-fault state (offering what scholars call “unilateral divorce”) so she is 100-percent guaranteed to win that part of her lawsuit.)

(A plaintiff suffered “years of abuse” during a one-year marriage says the newspaper that assures us inflation is being ably handled by the technocrats.)

“Amber Heard admits to withholding millions from Children’s Hospital” (PopTopic 2021):

Amber Heard admits to “failing” to donate to charity. After Johnny Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman subpoenaed two organisations that Amber Heard claimed she donated the entirety of her USD$7 million divorce settlement, it came to light that Amber Heard had lied under oath about making any donations. She reportedly pocketed the entire amount.

Amber Heard promised that she would donate the whole amount to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to prove that she was not after Johnny Depp’s money.

Presumably it isn’t relevant to the core of the issues at the current trial, but I wonder if it is now clear to what extent Ms. Heard acted on her expressed charitable intent.

(As previously noted here, the most obvious way for Amber Heard to have donated $7 million of money earned by Johnny Depp was to write checks from a joint checking account with Mr. Depp shortly before she filed her divorce lawsuit, then ask only to be divorced in the suit (an automatic win since California is a no-fault state). This has worked for plaintiffs in Maskachusetts. One gal transferred more than $1 million in joint account money via cash and checks to her boyfriend, then sued her husband for property division, alimony, and child support. The judge ruled that she was authorized to spend the jointly held money however she wanted during the marriage. So he split the remaining assets 50/50 and also awarded 20 years of child support and alimony to the victorious plaintiff. She ended up with perhaps 80 percent of the spending power. This was 20 years ago, so $1 million was real money at the time.)


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Career Planning Inspiration

This is the time when young people begin looking for their first jobs out of college and/or high school. Where are these jobs likely to lead 40 years down the road? A friend sent me this article from MarketWatch:

My 59-year-old retired girlfriend is well-off. Her lakefront home with an extra buildable lot, her Florida condo, and her residential and commercial rental properties are all paid off, and she has over $3 million in cash and investments. She is also collecting alimony from her ex for a few more years.

I am 62 and employed, and have just under $1 million in cash and investments. I have no debt other than a car lease, I manage my finances prudently, and I’m a man of simple pleasures.

Looks like some career paths pay better than others….


  • Real World Divorce (the girlfriend’s career as a family court entrepreneur might have yielded a very different profit level in another state)
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Lecture regarding portfolio diversification from a mother of 6

What are folks doing for end-of-year portfolio clean-up in light of the radically changed economic landscape, notably the dramatic inflation as measured by the CPI and the even more dramatic inflation as experienced by actual consumers? A friend who is a connoisseur of hip hop sent me this brief lecture on portfolio diversification (the percentages are accurate for a lot of states, but the dollar figures could have been a lot higher if higher-income targets had been identified). Note that the lecturer’s strategy is inflation-proof since the wages on which her income is based should rise along with any inflation rate.

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A woman’s love letter to herself and the no-fault divorce system

How did the U.S. end up with double the percentage of children living without two parents compared to a lot of European countries? (link to some data) “Divorce Can Be an Act of Radical Self-Love” (New York Times, 9/30/2021) and similar celebrations of the path to bliss starting at the local family court might be partially explanatory (the cash incentives are very different too!).

Let’s see if the article is convincing:

… I’ve learned that divorce can also be an act of radical self-love that leaves the whole family better off. My divorce nearly seven years ago freed me from a relationship that was crushing my spirit. It freed my children, then 5 and 3, from growing up in a profoundly unhealthy environment.

Profoundly unhealthy environment? Dad was beating the wife and kids while smoking crystal meth and without taking any breaks to inhale “essential” (in Maskachusetts) healing cannabis?

There was no emotional or physical abuse in our home. There was no absence of love. I was in love with my husband when we got divorced. Part of me is in love with him still. I suspect that will always be the case. Even now, after everything, when he walks into the room my stomach drops the same way it does before the roller coaster comes down. I divorced my husband not because I didn’t love him. I divorced him because I loved myself more.

The mom/author says that she wanted more time to work:

I made choice after choice to prioritize my career because I believed fervently in the importance of the work I was doing, providing legal representation to wrongfully convicted men and women.

I have spent much of the pandemic interviewing working women who are diverse across race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, geography, class, age and profession for a book I am writing about ambitious mothers and the benefits to their children when they prioritize their careers.

Talking to the subset who are divorced, I found a common theme, even a sisterhood: Divorce is painful and heartbreaking. But it can also be liberating, pointing the way toward a different life that leaves everyone better off, including the children.

One 38-year-old newly single mother who works full time and attends graduate school at night told me with pride that for the first time, she is living with her 9-year-old in an apartment she picked out, decorated and paid for on her own.

… for unhappily married women who are able to support themselves and their children, breaking free can also be like plunging into a cold ocean: a shock to the system that is at once brutal and cleansing. They can emerge stronger and clearer-eyed. Their children benefit because happier mothers are better parents.

That last one is my favorite. According to the author and the NYT editors, it is safe to assume that a person who is unhappy in a marriage is guaranteed to find enduring happiness just as soon as the divorce lawsuit is filed. And then the children will bask in the reflected glow of that enduring happiness as they shuttle back and forth between households, watch their college fund being spent on lawyers for both sides, etc. Certainly there is no possibility that the person dissatisfied with Situation A will become dissatisfied with Situation B. (A friend’s wife recently hired a 50ish woman to be her assistant. The woman complained that previous employers had mistreated her, sexually harassed her, etc. After a few weeks… she quit the assistant job.)

The first sentence in the above excerpt is also interesting. Mom says that she didn’t want to invest too much time in her kids because it was important to help the wrongfully convicted and the only way to truly focus on helping out in criminal court was via a trip to the local family court. But, unless the real answer is that she wanted to spend time have sex with new friends from Bumble, wouldn’t the optimum solution have been to dump all child- and household-related tasks onto the husband/father(maybe!) and hired help as necessary? The dad sounds like a total pushover: “He rarely travels and actively engages with nearly every aspect of our children’s lives no matter how mundane.” and “My ex-husband and I make a point of spending time together with our children, having regular dinners, watching sports and going for bike rides as a foursome.”

Overall, if it is this easy to use children’s feelings and words for one’s own benefit, almost any selfish adult decision can be justified. Imagine someone who identified as a “man” writing “I knew that my 5-year-old would be better off if he/she/ze/they could vicariously share the joy that I experience when out on Tinder dates with women 15 years younger than his/her/zir/their mom.” This was a popular perspective in the “do your own thing” era circa 1970 when no-fault (“unilateral”) divorce was being made available. According to the academic psychologists, this perspective is simply wishful thinking on the part of adults who are pursuing selfish goals. See “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: Report of a 25-Year Study”, in which 131 children of divorce were followed; they did not fare well compared to adults who had grown up in intact families. The PDF is available:

Hardly any of our subjects described a happy childhood; in fact a number of children told us that “the day they divorced was the day my childhood ended.” … By the 25-year mark, the majority had decided not to have children.

No child of divorce in our study was invited by both parents, either separately or together, to discuss college plans. … Only 57% of the divorce group achieved their bachelor’s degree as compared with 90% in the comparison group. … Unhappy, [those who did attend college] settled for fields of study that were not their first choice, at lower ranked institutions than their parents had attended. It was at this time that one young person, echoing the emotions of many others, commented bitterly, “I paid for my parents’ divorce.”

The central finding of this study is that parental divorce impacts detrimentally the capacity to love and be loved within a lasting, committed relationship.

A subgroup of over 20 women from the divorced group sought out multiple lovers. … Their sexual encounters seemed driven by anger at men, which even their close relationships with their fathers did not seem to mute.

(i.e., a mother’s alimony-fueled escape to Tinderhood can result in daughters who are passionate Tinder users as well)

I find this a fascinating cultural artifact, not so much that the law professor would justify reorganizing her own life for her own reasons as something that benefits her children, but that these rationalizations would be of wide enough public interest to merit publication in one of our biggest newspapers. That says something about how passionate New York Times readers are about living their best life, regardless of the consequences to children and others.


  • the author, Lara Bazelon, was able to take time away from helping the wrongfully convicted to write an editorial for the New York Times complaining that Amy Coney Barrett wouldn’t be enthusiastic about abortion (“the heart of the long, continuing march for gender equality”). This is consistent with her more recent NYT piece (above), since the best way to avoid being bothered by children is to abort them (legal right up to 36 or 37 weeks in Massachusetts if one doctor thinks the child who pops out will irritate the mother and therefore impair her mental health). Thanks to Professor Bazelon, we now know that a judge appointed by a Republican doesn’t love abortion as much as a Democrat-appointed judge would love abortion!
  • “Female Voters’ ‘Marriage Gap’ And The Midterms” (NPR): “Married women tend to have more conservative beliefs and vote more for Republicans, while single women tend to be aligned more with Democrats.” (i.e., one way to boost votes for Democrats is to encourage women to file divorce lawsuits)
  • Facebook uses a Malibu-flying engineering manager to promote careers in engineering… (we celebrate the mid-life gender ID change of a married “man” without considering the effects on the middle-aged wife and on the kids)
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Can income from prostitution be factored into the alimony formula?

Someone earning $700,000 over a 6-year period seeks alimony from a spinal surgeon spouse earning substantially more over the same period ($3 million in one year alone). For purposes of calculating alimony, does the court assume that $700,000 will be earned over the next 6 years by the lower-income spouse? The U.S. Sun raises what is perhaps a novel question. (Thanks to four separate readers who emailed this to me!)

Kim claimed in the documents for years he didn’t know that Turner was working as a high-priced call girl.

The divorce papers, which were filed in Manhattan Supreme Court in July, reportedly allege that Turner earned nearly $700,000 in cash from her clients.

They go on to claim that Turner had clients including a New Jersey-based real estate executive and an award-winning lighting designer, New York Daily News reported.

Dr. Kim only first became aware of his wife’s double life in December 2020 when he came across an explicit iMessage intended for Turner, which detailed a sexual encounter between her and another man, the court papers reportedly state.

“Not to belabor the obvious but the defendant clearly committed material fraud upon Dr. Kim by concealing her sale of sexual services in exchange for money prior to the marriage,” Dr. Kim reportedly states in the court documents.

This particular case was settled so we’ll never find out, but it would be interesting to see if a court would allow expert testimony on the question of what the future earnings of a prostitute might be.

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Government gives Americans 3,600 new reasons to fight over custody starting today

Today is the first day when a “parent” can get a $3,600 per child fully refundable tax credit from the U.S. government. This is a fully refundable credit, i.e., it turns into $300 per month Given that roughly half of American children don’t live with two biological parents, that means that the cash implications of winning “primary parent” status are more significant than ever. If there are two children, for example, and the parents have equal incomes, a 60/40 parenting split might result in a 2:1 different in spending power between the winner parent and the loser parent (state-by-state differences in child support formulae are substantial).

For plaintiffs who were on the fence regarding making a domestic violence allegation, for example, in hopes of enhancing prospects for obtaining primary custody, now there is an additional $7,200/year at stake (comparable to working 1,000 extra hours per year at the current federal minimum wage). For comparison, $7,200 per year is more than a Swedish plaintiff could obtain by having sex with the richest billionaire in Sweden. It is also more than a plaintiff could obtain by having sex with the richest defendant in Germany.

(The current wave of inflation that is washing over the U.S. also makes family court litigation more critical. See “Profits from Marriage and Child Support Depend Heavily on Inflation Rates” within the Quirks chapter:

Nominal rather than real (inflation-adjusted) investment income is included in every state’s child support formula. Consider a defendant with $2 million in premarital savings and a 2-percent real return on those savings. With inflation at 1 percent, the nominal return will be 3 percent or $60,000 per year. If inflation goes back up to a Jimmy Carter-era 10 percent, the nominal return will be 12 percent and investment income for child support purposes will be $240,000 per year, four times as high despite the fact that the real return on investment is the same. The effect of inflation in Wisconsin, for example, with its 25 percent of gross income rule for two kids, is an increase in the child support plaintiff’s share of investment income from $15,000 per year up to $60,000, far exceeding the $40,000 in real return.

The value of property division can also be boosted by inflation. Consider a jurisdiction where a divorce plaintiff is entitled to a roughly 50 percent share of any appreciation in the value of premarital savings. If the real value doesn’t change, but inflation is 10 percent per year, the separate property will double in nominal value over a 7-year period. A plaintiff who sues for divorce after 7 years will thus obtain 25 percent of the value of the property by collecting 50 percent of the appreciation. In a no-inflation environment, the share would be 0 rather than 25 percent.

If we’re going to have inflation plus extra government-sent rewards to the parent who wins custody, might the second best career choice in the Biden era be divorce litigator? (first best, of course, is child support plaintiff after having sex with a high-income partner!))


  • “New $3,000 child tax credit could raise issues for divorced parents” (CNBC, a little out of sync with the fact that never-married-to-begin-with is a common status for plaintiffs and defendants in U.S. family courts)
  • A section asking whether it makes sense to run a court system to pick winner and loser parents: What does [Linda Nielsen, professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University] think of the winner/loser custody system that prevails in most U.S. states? “A lot of social scientists say that a court cannot possibly pull together enough custody evaluators and psychology experts to accurately predict what is going to be the best parenting plan for each child in a particular family ” responded Nielsen. “The premise that custody evaluators can always give an objective recommendation is flawed. It is not like a driving test or a math test. There may be no standard set of credentials for custody evaluators. There is not necessarily consistency from one evaluator to another and many of the measures used in these evaluations were not designed for that purpose.. A psychologist can’t walk into an intact family, do an assessment and determine which parent is better for which child at which age in that family – or who will be the better parent four years from now. So why bring that difficult task into family court?” Nielsen says that a deeper problem with courts picking the “better parent” at the time of divorce may be that the judge is answering the wrong question. “It doesn’t matter who is a better parent at the time of the divorce,” says Nielsen. “I ask students [in a Wake Forest University Department of Psychology course] ‘Was your mother or father the better parent when you were 6, 10, 16 years old? Now answer the same question for your brother or sister. The answer is different at each age and, with siblings, depending on the personality of the siblings and the parents. The importance or effectiveness of each parent will go up and down as the child ages, which is one reason that children who are in shared parenting arrangements do better than children who spend less than 35 percent of their time with one parent.”
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