Shared parenting a viable option – Child custody reforms

A number of states in the U.S. – namely, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming – have been considering reforming child custody laws. A reform is warranted in shared parenting after divorce or separation, enabling more shared time for non-custodial parents with their children.

As per one of the press releases of the National Parents Organization (NPO), these states could “provide children what they most want and need — equal time with both parents in instances of divorce or separation.” NPO is a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization[1], that seeks better lives for children through family law reform, by establishing equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation.

For instance, New York came up with Bill S949-2013, to amend the domestic relations law §§70 & 240, and add §240-d in relation to establishing a presumption of shared parenting of minor children in matrimonial proceedings[2]. South Carolina on the other hand aims at amending § 63-15-220, to cover that the court shall provide parents, at no additional cost, mediation services, to develop a parenting plan or shared parenting plan.[3] At the same time, Maryland spells out two bills – HB1440, and SB1004 – both concerned with equal parenting time.[4]

The NPO also demonstrated a study of the mental health of children in correlation with shared parenting after divorce or separation. They found that children who were able to spend substantial time with each parent were less stressed in comparison to those children who were living mostly with only one parent. Ned Holstein, the NPO founder opined:

“Fathers want to share the parenting time with mothers after separation, and research shows children want the same thing.” “Also, research overwhelmingly shows children greatly benefit when both parents play significant roles in their lives.”

Another NPO press release has noted the impact of single parenting on children, according to the data presented by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau. Out of 35 percent of children raised by single parents, 63 percent account for teen suicides, 71 percent for high school dropouts and 90 percent for homeless and runaway cases.[5]

While, shared parenting is a good option, some negatives continue to exist. These may include continuous contention between two separated parents and the stress that the child may have to go through, while being sandwiched between different homes and parenting techniques.

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