Shared custody gains support for raising kids post-divorce

Florida parents considering divorce might also be getting ready for a fight for custody with their ex-spouse. In the past, many courts have awarded physical custody to one parent, with the other usually seeing their children one night a week and every other weekend. However, this might be changing as evidence is gathered that supports the concept of shared custody as the most beneficial arrangement for children.

According to a study by a Wake Forest University adolescent and educational psychology professor, children are placed with their mothers in 80 percent of custody cases due to a misunderstanding about the impact of conflict on children's outcomes. Conflict can also be exaggerated by parents hoping to get awarded custody. Additionally, while there can be high conflict during the first few years after divorce, this usually decreases as time goes by, but child custody decisions made taking into account this conflict can last for an entire childhood. The study found that the most important thing in determining a child's outcome in the future is the quality of the child's relationship with both parents, not whether there is conflict between the parents.

Some states are already showing support for shared parenting legally. Arizona, Alaska, Utah, Missouri and Kentucky have all passed legislation supporting shared parenting. Experts say that the best way to look out for children's interests is to design programs that promote better relationships with children and both their parents, at the same time limiting their exposure to conflict.

Even with shared parenting as an option, parents who need to negotiate child custody might choose to have the support of a lawyer with family law experience. A lawyer can explain any legislation that might affect custody negotiations and represent clients during these negotiations.

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