California parents who are divorcing or considering a divorce and dealing with disagreements over child custody might be interested in knowing about the momentum that shared parenting is currently getting in various states. Historically, primary physical custody has been awarded to the mother, and this is borne out by census data that shows that more than 80 percent of custodial parents are the mother. However, there is a growing trend in states for shared parenting plans that maximize the time each parent spends with their children after a divorce.

Many states are considering legislation that would take this into account and allow in some cases both parents to spend roughly equal amounts of time with their children after a divorce. This is important since research has shown that one of the major ways to counter the negative impact of divorce on children is to have both parents as involved as possible in their lives. Shared parenting and other plans that maximize time with both parents make sense if research is followed and a child’s best interest are taken into account when couples negotiate child custody.

A recent study of Nebraska custody cases from 2002 to 2012 showed that 72 percent of divorced fathers only got to see their children an average of 5.5 days per month. Meanwhile, the National Parents Organization’s Shared Parenting Report Card, which studied each state’s custody legislation and ranked it according to shared parenting principles, showed that most states scored very poorly, with 25 states receiving a grade of D or less and none receiving an A grade.

When parents feud over custody, they often concentrate on winning the battle and fail to take the feelings and interests of their children into account. A parent who is in this situation may wish to speak with a family law attorney to see if there are other options, such as mediation or negotiations, that would avoid contentious litigation.

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