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Courts still reluctant to order shared custody

The expectations society has put on parents has sometimes been a difficult burden to bear. Each generation tries to get it right, and the following generation wants to parent in its own way. One constant is that children love both of their parents, and the time they spend with each parent is vital to their formation.

Recent generations may have cast aside traditional roles of men and women, but the notion that kids are better off with moms after a divorce still pervades family courts in California and beyond. One study shows that over 80 percent of court decisions grant full custody to mothers instead of agreeing to equal custody. However, it may not be for the reasons you think.

Custody or convenience?

Courts may place children with mothers more frequently than sharing custody with fathers, but it may not be because judges think mothers are better parents than fathers. Many judges seem to feel that divorce is contentious, and that contention is unhealthy for kids. Rather than place your children in a situation where you and your ex would have to deal with one another in a potentially volatile situation, a judge may grant custody to the mother and minimize the contact the children have with their dad.

However, a recent university study shows some surprising results. In fact, the study suggests that your children would fare better if they have quality relationships with both you and your ex-spouse, even if the relationship between the two of you is strained. In other words, placing the children in a shared custody arrangement where you and your ex argue still provides the opportunity for your children to develop crucially strong bonds with both of you.

The advantages of co-parenting

Another point the author of the study confirms is that divorcing couples typically exaggerate the tension that exists between them because both spouses are fighting for their rights, especially when it comes to custody. Once your divorce is settled, you and your ex will probably fall into a new routine. The conflict generally dies down and many divorced parents manage to co-parent respectfully.

Children who have equal time with both parents reportedly have advantages over those for whom a custody order limits their time with one parent. Co-parented children tend to have more success in school and have fewer problems with drugs and teen pregnancy. Because many are seeing the benefits of co-parenting, there is increasing support for policies to help divorcing parents like you manage their conflict in ways that will facilitate shared parenting.

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