In 2015, the shared parenting movement gained considerable traction as 20 state legislatures considered laws that would establish the presumption that children will be raised by both parents following a divorce or separation.
That momentum is continuing to build as awareness of the benefits of shared parenting grows and lawmakers continue working to pass laws that ensure children have equal access to both parents.
There have already been some significant developments during the first two months of 2016.
Support for shared parenting grows
National Parents Organization founder and acting executive director Ned Holstein has previously referred to 2014 as a “watershed year” for shared parenting.
That year, the International Council on Shared Parenting met for the first time in Bonn, Germany, and representatives from 20 countries put together a conference statement that shared parenting should be the usual outcome of parental breakups for most children.
Clinical and research psychologist Richard Warshak also published a paper that year in the Journal of the American Psychological Association that stated shared parenting “should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.” The paper was endorsed by 110 international experts in sociology, psychology, education and child development.
More recently, the Catholic Church endorsed shared parenting after divorce or separation by publishing a full-page spread in its official newspaper.
Not only did the article urge family courts to support shared parenting, but to also ensure the arrangement occurs in practice. It also offered support to legislative efforts encouraging shared parenting.
According to the NPO, this is the first time a major religious body has taken a stance on shared parenting.
Research continues to back shared parenting
Social science has supported shared parenting for years, but a recent Swedish study provided even more clarity about its benefits.
Marlin Bergstrom recently published a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, her second shared parenting study in the last year.
Previously, Bergstrom addressed one of the most common criticisms of shared parenting – that shuffling children from one household to the other creates stress that could lead to a host of negative outcomes. By looking at 150,000 children in various living arrangements, Bergstrom found moving children back and forth had no noticeable effect on children’s well-being and was outweighed by the positive effects of maintaining a continued relationship with both parents.
In her most recent study, Bergstrom examined whether the benefits of shared parenting could be explained by factors other than their family living arrangement such as their parents’ post-divorce socioeconomic situation.
The study of 5,000 kids between the ages of 10 and 18 found children in nuclear families and joint custody have roughly the same levels of psychological complaints and those in sole custody arrangements have far more. These findings hold up regardless of the parents’ socioeconomic status or health.
We’ve known for a long time a correlation between a host of positive outcomes and shared parenting existed. This study indicates there is also causation.
Shared parenting bills proposed
Unfortunately, even though the benefits of shared parenting are well-documented, it is still very rare for states to hold the presumption that children should have equal access to both parents.
Only 17 percent of custody cases result in shared parenting, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For the most part, states fail at promoting this arrangement to the detriment of families.
However, many lawmakers are working to reverse that trend.
The Missouri legislature has proposed two companion shared parenting bills in the 2016 session, HB 2055 and SB 964, that would add language to the state’s child custody law to emphasize that the best interest of the child is equal access to both parents. That change would encourage judges to give more credence to the research suggesting shared parenting arrangements are in the child’s best interest.
“Both (bills) use the same language to make clear, that children of divorce or separation, want and need equal access to both FIT and WILLING parents,” wrote Linda Reutzel, NPO’s Missouri contact person. “The bills make it clear that equal access to both FIT and WILLING parents IS in the best interest of children. The language change is a small one to our Statutes, but a very important one in the lives of our children. Research and common sense show that children want and need equal access to both parents and their extended families. It’s in their DNA!”
Last month, the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would make equal child sharing by divorced couples the preferred state policy.
SB 250 would force judges to begin with the assumption that divorced couples equally share child rearing while also giving the judge the authority to alter the arrangement based on 22 criteria, which include issues like schooling and medical care. Should the judge deviate from that arrangement, the reason for doing so would need to be explained in writing.
It is surely frustrating for parents that it is taking this long for courts to catch up and revise laws that are so blatantly outdated and fail to look out for the best interest of families. However, it should be at least somewhat encouraging that the shared parenting movement is continuing to gain steam.
10 comments on “Shared Parenting Movement Continues Gaining Traction”
It’s all depends on the attitude of the divorced or separated parents if they mutually agreed to share parenting and put their child or children’s BEST interest. Avoid fighting each other or avoid setting up each other for the purpose of getting the other parent into trouble with the law to gain Full Custody of the child or children for child support and welfare benefits services. Or trying to hurt the other patient’s feelings as a revenge or retaliate.
Shared parenting is so, so important for the kids… But many times, in a divorce that is largely contested, one spouse may resort to underhanded tactics as in Ken’s comment, in order to keep the children most of the time, or even to avoid a shared parenting situation altogether.
I think special care should be taken by the judges when such allegations are brought up. You cannot close the case if one spouse has not had a proper chance to fight false allegations or expose hidden negative living conditions for the kids with the other spouse.
On 2010 I got 50-50 joint physical custody but turns out when I went to go pick up my kids she was nowhere to be found then she popped up and 20 14 asking for child support now I have court March 15, 2016 eight in the morning and need a lawyer in 2010 I got custody without no representation just me myself and I represented myself in court and got 50-50 joint physical custody but need a lawyer this time to represent me if you have any nonprofit lawyers or any lawyers under a thousand please give me a call or email me
Shared parenting is just smart! The lawyers have to make money by draging cases out! That is why it’s taking so long. Just like this group uses a lawyer against the father. It’s hard to believe your helping dads out!
I am very interested in hearing more about how the courts will ensure the arrangement occurs in practice!
I have a shared a parenting agreement but it is not respected as 50/50. My ex has lied to the police to manipulate me and also lied and manipulated the courts in order keep me on a full custody schedule.
She only agreed to shared parenting in order to not have her situation and mental mistreatment of my kids investigated or questioned by the judge. She did it to hide the deadbeat dad boyfriend of hers that she had my kids living with and even lied to the court to block the use of a GAL that was aware of her situation and also aware of her boyfriend’s custody history with his past three wives.
She never planned to sharing the parenting, therefore she fooled me and the court. She will use other people (friends parents and strangers) to block me from getting them even when she choosing to go somewhere or can’t be there.
In the divorce hearing, the judge was happy to see us go with shared parenting but it was all a lie on her part. To top it off, any contempt issues I bring the court gets overlooked by them. They tell me I have no say what she does when she has the kids, which is about 85% of the time.
If your ex is denying you visitation in violation of the agreement, then show up at your ex’s home to pick up the kids with the police and a copy of the agreement on hand. The police will enforce the agreement because it’s court-ordered. If she refuses to surrender the kids, then she will be arrested. Usually, in the visitation part of the agreement there is a schedule. Call the police prior to picking up the kids. Always walk with a copy of the custody agreement.
If your ex continues to deny visitation, then file a contempt motion against her. Make sure you keep records of all the money you spend, and the times she denies visitation. Even if she follows the order with police urging, keep a record of it. I would keep tabs on her boyfriend to check if he breaks laws that impact your children, directly or indirectly.
You may want to consult with a good family law attorney, like Cordell & Cordell. Good luck!
I did that to my ex, I called the cop on her and dragged her to court on an ECPARTE HEARING the next day when she refused to give me our child as ordered by the court. She nearly lost her parental right, instead the family law Judge gave her one chance with strict warning if she violated the custody court orders again that she will loose her parental right.I ADVISE ALL FATHERS that has joint custody-shared parenting, do not fight for your self if the other parent trying to provoke or causing trouble with you. Take the High Road by letting the authority fight for you. Don’t be stupid and loose the chance to father your child or children because the mother’s intimidating you to get you into trouble so she obtain Full custody and comes after you for child support benefits.