Across the country, the shared parenting movement is gaining momentum, and has been for years.
Currently, bills are being considered in Florida, Missouri, Maryland and Massachusetts that would move toward a presumption of equal access for both parents in child custody cases. More states are expected to join the fold in coming months.
However, just a quick examination of the basis of the anti-shared parenting argument reveals how flawed it is.
Start first with this brief column by New Jersey family lawyer Santo Artusa, “The Shared Parenting Myth.” The crux of Artusa’s argument is that while shared parenting might sound good in theory, it is too complicated to sort out the logistics.
“While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I do not see how shuttling a child back and forth from one home to the next every other day or every other week makes sense,” he wrote. “Children need consistency.”
Artusa opines on what is best for children, but he fails to cite any data or research to back his opinion. In fact, a massive study conducted by Marlin Bergstrom that was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health completely refutes the claim.
By looking at 150,000 children in various living arrangements, Bergstrom found that moving back and forth between houses had no noticeable effect on children’s well-being and was outweighed by the positives of having a relationship with both parents.
The argument against the shared parenting bill in Florida is even more perplexing. There, critics have claimed, “There is no research that supports shared parenting, … as being in the best interests of children.”
It’s astonishing that in 2016 anyone would try to make that claim. Overwhelmingly, social scientists agree that having equal access to both parents is the arrangement that best benefits children after divorce.
In 2014, the American Psychological Association published a report titled, “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children,” which included shared parenting endorsements from 110 of the world’s leading child development experts.
Another common refrain from shared parenting critics is that shared parenting puts the desires of parents ahead of kids. But again, research shows otherwise.
In “The Equal Parent Presumption: Social Justice in the Legal Determination of Parenting after Divorce,” Dr. Edward Kruk methodically lays out 16 separate reasons why shared parenting is in the best interests of children, adults and the judicial system alike. And unlike shared parenting detractors, Kruk supports each reason with scientific evidence.
The difference between the two sides is glaring. Those who support shared parenting are able to make their case with data and empirical evidence. Shared parenting critics base their arguments on anecdotal examples and personal opinions, which social science tends to quickly refute.
Taking an unbiased, objective look at each side’s arguments makes it pretty clear which arrangement is in the best interests of families.