Are more states moving toward a shared parenting model?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Friday, May 1, 2015.

Many people might not realize it, but the way in which courts here in the U.S. currently treat child custody arrangements is the product of a fundamental transformation that occurred roughly 50 years ago.

Specifically, the prevailing view adhered to by the courts during the last century was known as the “tender years” doctrine, which dictated that children — especially infants and toddlers — benefited the most by being close to their mothers.

This changed in roughly the mid-60s, however, when U.S. courts began adopting the now ubiquitous view that custody should be decided based on the best interests of the child.

Interestingly, some experts are now wondering if we aren’t perhaps on the cusp of another transformation in how the courts handle child custody arrangements thanks not to events playing out in courtrooms, but rather playing out in state capitols.

Indeed, lawmakers in nearly 20 states are now considering legislation that in one form or another strongly persuades judges to take a shared parenting approach in child custody disputes, meaning the custody schedules ultimately created should maximize the amount of time that each parent get to spend with a child.

Supporters of this legislative movement, fueled in large part by fathers seeking a greater voice, argue that shared parenting models help promote greater harmony between parents by largely eliminating the need for prolonged custody battles and, more significantly, are more beneficial to children as both parents get to play an active role in their lives.

Critics, however, have argued that shared parenting models do nothing more than limit judicial discretion and give an upper hand to abusive spouses. Furthermore, they content that such arrangements are unlikely to be harmonious, especially if the two spouses were otherwise prepared to fight in court.

It remains to be seen what happens in these 20 capitols and whether shared parenting agreements become more of the norm.

Stay tuned for updates …

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