Shared custody advocates gaining ground

Florida couples may be interested in the latest legislative trend centered around child custody issues. New laws may dictate how custody is determined between divorcing spouses who go to court.

Lawmakers across the country are looking at the possibility of changing laws related to how courts deal with child custody during divorces. In Arkansas, a law was passed in 2013 that dictates that courts must give both parents approximately equal custodial time. Florida and Minnesota passed similar legislation that ended up being vetoed by the respective governors of those states. Connecticut and Maryland have assigned task forces to study the issue to see if such a shared custody bill would be beneficial to their residents.

The movement in favor of shared custody arrangements is not solely within state legislatures. Polls are showing increasing support for such statutory measures. Proponents argue that giving sole custody to one spouse, while the other only has visitation rights, puts all of the parental power in one spouse's hands, which can be frustrating and difficult for the noncustodial parent. As gender roles become more balanced and equal, men are increasingly becoming the caretakers of their children. Changes to custody laws would allow them more control over the raising of their children.

While the trend has its detractors who believe that judges should retain flexibility in deciding custody battles, those who support shared custody have something to hope for. In the meantime, a parent who is dealing with child custody issues may find it helpful to contact an attorney who has experience in such matters. The attorney may be able to help the client negotiate a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.

Source: USA Today, "Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome", Jonathan Ellis, January 27, 2014

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