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The debate over shared parenting in child custody matters

The push in many states when it comes to child custody disputes is towards a more equal shared custody arrangement.  In Texas as in every other state, the best interest of the child should be a vital consideration when child custody determinations are made.  However, there is considerable disagreement concerning what sort of custody arrangement would meet this goal.

 Supporters of shared-parenting laws are of the opinion that children are best served when an equal amount of time is spent with each parent - except in those instances where a history of abuse or substance problems is demonstrated.  Those opposed feel that to achieve custody arrangements that are in the best interest of the child, a certain degree of flexibility needs to be given to judges in making determinations as to what sort of arrangement is best.

There are no easy answers as to what truly is the best arrangement. Certain states have gone ahead and passed laws allowing for equal divisions of time in most proceedings. Other states have created tasks forces or commissions to give the question more thought.

We are seeing a certain amount of role reversal in that fathers becoming caretakers to children is more common. More Americans are also expressing support of shared custody in some form. Also, some individuals have complained that non-custodial parents often are not provided enough power in the area of parental decision-making.

Family law attorneys may not be able to influence the types of laws that lawmakers pass. However, we will certainly continue to strive for the goal of doing what is in the child's best interest. This can be achieved if the facts of each case are disclosed in a clear and organized fashion.

Source: USA Today, "Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome," Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 27, 2014

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