A change in child custody arrangements could be on the horizon

Judges in divorce cases must often consider a child’s best interests when determining child custody arrangements. The outcome of such cases often involves one parent getting the majority of custody or even sole custody. This person is known as the custodial parent. However, recent legislative action in several states seems to indicate a growing trend towards “shared parenting.”

Advocates of this practice argue that the default outcome of a child custody case should involve both parents getting to spend 50 percent of the time with the children. People who support the idea claim that a child is not best served when custody is granted to only one parent. Unless a parent has been known to be abusive, they argue, both parents should get to spend an equal amount of time with the children.

The idea has already taken hold in Arkansas. Last year, that state’s government enacted a law stating that shared parenting should be the default outcome after a divorce. Specifically, the law called for children to spend an “approximately and reasonably equal” amount of time with either parent. The bill reversed the law already in place in Arkansas. One attorney commenting on the new legislation stated that the law is significant, but not enough time has passed to clearly understand the exact impact it will have on divorce cases.

A similar law made it through the Florida legislature, but it was eventually vetoed by the governor. In Maryland, a commission has been created to investigate the child custody practices in the state. Connecticut has created a similar task force.

While it’s unclear if the Texas government plans to take any action on the issue, polls do indicate that many Americans support the idea of shared parenting. Unless the law in Texas changes, however, non-custodial parents must still work with the courts if they desire more custody.

Any Texas resident that disagrees with a judge’s custody decision may wish to consider further legal avenues. An experienced family law attorney can provide more information.

Source: usatoday.com, “Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome” Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 27, 2014

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