Divorcing parents throughout the United States, including California, know firsthand how thorny child custody issues can be during divorce negotiations, especially when it comes to deciding whether to agree to sole custody or shared or joint custody.
Recently, lawmakers around the country have been looking more favorably on the possibility of making shared parenting a legally sanctioned default position after divorce. These advocates believe that shared child custody can be beneficial to both parents and their child, as long as all parties are agreeable to the arrangement. However, opponents of 50-50 child custody have maintained that judges should continue to be flexible when considering whether parents should split their time with their kids.
A few social changes are helping the idea along. First, a parent's gender no longer dictates whether a divorced parent can look after his or her child. Now more men are assuming the role of caretaker. Second, polls show that a majority of Americans now favor 50-50 child custody. Third, more and more noncustodial parents feel that custodial parents have more rights than they do, fueling movements across the country to review and change some custody laws.
Both parents can play a crucial role in a child's upbringing. Although divorce may mean the emotional separation of parents, it does not mean that the parent-child relationship should be compromised. Shared custody offers a way to avoid that. However, although it may seem ideal, a joint custody arrangement is not going to be right for everyone.
Courts award child custody based on several factors but ultimately make decisions with the best interests of the child in mind. If a parent feels that modification of child custody is necessary, then he or she should consider consulting a family law attorney. Unless the other parent poses some harm to the child, the benefits of shared child custody should be considered in any event.
Source: USA Today, "Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome," Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 27, 2014