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Shared parenting not the norm, but an option

Because child custody matters are so emotional, it can be hard for parents to set aside their own wishes and desires in order to achieve an outcome that is truly in the best interests of the child.

Some parents are so set on getting more time or more authority over their children that they try to shut the other parent out. However, this is usually not in the best interests of the children, who benefit from a strong relationship with both parents.

In fact, according to a Wake Forest University professor of adolescent and educational psychology, many studies have shown that children in 50-50 shared parenting arrangements fare better than children in arrangements in which one parent has primary custody.

The professor said children in shared parenting arrangements have demonstrated lower levels of depression, anxiety and other negative behaviors.

However, a group that advocates nationally for 50-50 shared parenting arrangements says that family law judges in many states are still relying on outdated research suggesting that children should primarily be with their mothers.

The group, called the National Parents Organization, is attempting to convince lawmakers to make shared parenting the presumption under state laws. So far, few states have been receptive of the movement.

One of the main reasons for the apprehension was described by a family law mediator who said that judges need plenty of flexibility in child custody cases in order to reach an outcome that is truly best for the children and family.

The mediator said that while shared parenting is a good choice for some families, it might not work for all.

At this point in time, families in Ohio and West Virginia have an opportunity to shape their own, creative child custody arrangements, whether it is a 50-50 shared custody arrangement, a primary custody arrangement or something in between.

An experienced family law attorney can help parents find out more about their child custody options, while helping them to set aside their own emotions to reach an outcome that will remain in everyone’s best interests after the dust has settled.

Source: USA TODAY, “Report: States fail on shared parenting laws,” Jonathan Ellis, Nov. 13, 2014

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