By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
In an academic paper, social scientists at Arizona State University discussed and made conclusions on two universally conflicted issues facing family law courts and policy makers today on the issue of shared parenting:
- Is the quantity or the quality of parenting time more important for children’s outcomes?
- Should parenting time be limited in families where there is high conflict between divorced parents?
It was commonly believed that quality parenting time was more important for children’s overall well being than the quantity of time.
It has also been the accepted belief that in a scenario where divorced parents have frequent conflict the noncustodial parent’s time with the children should be limited. It was assumed that observing divorced parents in conflict was damaging to the children.
“The strong connection between parenting time and father-child relationships in divorced families with both low and high levels of parent conflict, and the evidence and theoretical understanding that have built over decades about how unsupportive parent-child relationships impair long-term health means that the lingering situation of minimal parenting time for great numbers of children is a public health issue that demands the attention of researchers, policymakers and individual courts. Much research shows that children and divorced fathers generally want more parenting time. We do not see a compelling reason to doubt that, absent any unusual circumstances, granting and encouraging more parenting time, especially in high-conflict families, will be a good thing for the children.”
However, after examining these long-believed conclusions in the light of current evidence, the sociologists’ conclusions were far different:
The sociologists concluded:
- When a father has too little parenting time with his child, it creates a long-term risk in the physical and mental health of the child.
- Children and noncustodial dads want more time together.
- Even if a divorced dad and mom have frequent conflict with each other over parenting and other issues regarding their child, the child is better off spending as much time as possible with both parents.
- Shared parenting is the best child custody arrangement for the child – even if the parents have frequent conflict.
If the previous conclusions are indeed accurate, judges, therapists, court-appointed mediators, divorce attorneys and other family law professionals are going to need to be re-educated in these new conclusions on the shared-parenting issue.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.