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The case for shared parenting

Research and evidence from other countries indicate that many Florida divorcing couples who have young children may benefit from shared parenting arrangements. Shared parenting means that both parents have roughly equal amounts of time and responsibilities for caring for children after a divorce or separation. There is strong evidence that a shared parenting arrangement benefits all of the parties involved.

Historically, shared parenting has not been the standard in the United States. Divorce courts still award mothers physical custody in the majority of cases. This means that fathers generally have only visitation rights and limited contact with their children. While often considered a victory for mothers, it is often detrimental to them. It saddles the mother with the full responsibilities of child care and housekeeping while maintaining the father indirectly as the breadwinner or monetary provider through child support. The mother's ability to maintain or advance her career and enter the workforce is often disrupted.

The situation is equally detrimental to children and their fathers. Research strongly supports the idea that children benefit most when they have roughly equal and consistent contact with both parents. Fathers who are allowed an active role in a child's life are more likely to support that child and may be more likely to provide for that child's welfare. In contrast, inconsistent or minimal contact disrupts the father-child bond and causes undue heartache for both as well as possible animosity toward the mother.

A shared parenting arrangement is something that can be worked out during negotiations. As long as both parents are considered fit and able to provide adequate care, the court will usually accept it. A parent can work with a child custody law firm to craft an agreement that outlines each parent's responsibilities.

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