Growing support for shared custody

Divorced Pennsylvania parents may be interested in a national trend that appears to be leaning toward a shared custody model. Advocates of this type of child custody claim that children do better when they spend equal amounts of time with their parents. Unless there is a history of physical or drug abuse, the group is opposed to one parent having sole or primary custody.

Groups supporting shared parenting plans offer several reasons in the concept’s favor. With gender roles changing, it has become more common for men to be caregivers, and many recent polls show strong support for the shared parenting concept. As courts often give custodial parents more power over decisions regarding the children, it can fuel frustration and bitterness between the parents that is not good for the children.

However, groups opposing mandatory shared custody feel it creates more conflict between parents because it would pit them against each other as they made sure the time was really equal. It is felt, however, that there should be guidelines for judges when joint custody is granted to prevent this type of conflict. Proponents of the status quo do not feel that there is any certain formula of time that makes for a good relationship between parent and child.

Custody arrangements should always be made with the best interests of the children in mind. It is often possible for the divorcing couple to attend mediation and agree on a custody plan before their case goes to court. This allows for the family’s particular circumstances to be taken into consideration and keeps a judge from having to make a decision that leaves one parent feeling disenfranchised.

Source: USA Today, “Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome“, Jonathon Ellis, January 27, 2014