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Sharing child custody can benefit children

When parents decide to divorce, child custody is usually one of the first concerns that is addressed, and it can be one of the last to be settled. The vast majority of New York parents simply want what is best for their children, but their goals can become muddied by their own desires to maintain custody or exact revenge on ex-spouses by constraining their time with the children. However, the average child typically benefits most from a child custody plan that actively involves both parents.

Child custody might have begun the slow process of evolving toward more equal time for both parents, but research indicates that approximately 83 percent of child custody agreements involve sole custody. Experts believe there is a serious issue with making only one party the active parent and the other more of a visitor. Indeed, barring any exceptional circumstances, the vast majority of up-to-date research indicates that shared and equal parenting is in the best interest of children of divorced parents.

Children who are raised by single or primary parents rather than an equal effort by both are far more likely to engage in drug abuse, be institutionalized as a juvenile and drop out of high school. The burden is not only on the child, with many parents who are awarded sole custody facing many difficulties to overcome that could be avoided with the aid of a co-parent. Unfortunately, family law tends to lag behind the growing database of evidence that supports equal and shared custody by both parents.

Of course, there will almost always be exceptions to this rule, such as custody disputes involving domestic violence or drug abuse, but these tend to be far from the norm. Instead, the typical divorcing couple in New York can address child custody issues without the intervention of the court, as long as everyone involved keeps the child's best interests at the center of the discussion. In the event that one parent believes an agreement is no longer serving those interests, he or she may petition the court to have it changed in order to involve both parents more equally or to remove a child from a difficult situation.

Source:, "After divorce, shared parenting is important", Kristen Paasch, Jan. 9, 2016

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