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Increase in shared parenting could be good for children

There has been a bigger effort to implement balanced child custody legislation during the first half of 2015, and this could lead to divorced parents spending time with their children more equally. Divorced spouses with children in Alabama might want to know that almost 20 states are considering steps that aim to change the laws that determine which parent is awarded legal custody.

According to a significant number of studies, the best way to prevent children from being negatively affected after a divorce is to grant equal parenting time to the parents. Researchers have also found that children who live with both of their parents are less stressed than children who live with just one parent. However, mothers are still overwhelmingly favored in child custody battles. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that mothers are the custodial parents in about 83 percent of the cases. At the end of 2013, the Nebraska Administrative Office of the Courts reported that 72 percent of fathers in that state who were not awarded custody between 2002 and 2012 only saw their children an average of 5.5 days a month.

In 2014, the first nationwide study provided an in-depth ranking of custody statutes for each state, and 25 states were ranked D or worse. No state was awarded an A. Since then, several states have made an effort to improve upon their custody laws. Utah, for example, enacted legislation that took effect in May 2015 and which increases the number of overnights per year that noncustodial parents receive from 80 to 145. Legislators in both Colorado and Texas have introduced equal parenting bills as well.

Divorcing parents who wish to seek equal parenting time with their children might discuss the possibility and how to approach making such an agreement with their respective family law attorneys. Noncustodial parents may also want the assistance of counsel when seeking to modify a custody order in the event of a change in circumstances.