Not everybody agrees shared parenting laws are in best interests of children
The National Parents Organization recently released its first report card about the state of shared parenting laws in all 50 states and D.C. According to USA Today, most states scored poorly, with New York and Rhode Island being the two states to receive an F grade. Supporters of shared parenting say that the concept helps protect the rights of both children and parents in child custody cases. Critics, however, are more skeptical, saying shared parenting prioritizes the interests of parents over those of children.
No As in report
The survey gave most states a D grade for their shared parenting laws. No states were ranked with an A, although seven states plus D.C. did receive B grades. The highest ranking states were Arizona and Alaska.
Advocates of shared parenting say that courts and state laws currently favor sole custody of children over the rights of the noncustodial parent. They argue that a 50-50 split should be presumed under the law as being in the best interests of the child and that custody should be awarded unevenly only when there is proof that the child would be better off with one parent over the other.
Rights of the children
Not everybody, however, agrees that shared parenting is the best way of resolving child custody issues. They note that putting shared parenting into law risks depriving judges of their ability to decide for themselves what custody arrangement is in the best interests of children. By removing judicial discretion, unique family cases could be subject to cookie-cutter solutions that don't take into account extenuating circumstances. Furthermore, as the Washington Post points out, many argue that shared parenting ends up placing the parents' interests above the child's interests.
Critics also say that courts have already been moving away from the concept of sole custody. In the past decade, for example, sole child custody going towards the mother no longer comprised a majority of child custody orders for the first time in well over a hundred years.
Child custody issues
It is understandable that the issue of shared parenting should cause so much debate given that child custody is such an emotional issue for many families. Parents want to make sure they remain involved in their children's lives and it is up to the courts to ensure that the best interests of the children are reflected in any child custody order.
Determining what those best interests are, however, is not always easy. Parents who currently have concerns about an existing or potential child custody order should get in touch with a family law attorney. An experienced attorney can provide compassionate and helpful advice to parents looking to make sure they are able to remain a vital part of their child's life.