More states push for joint child custody arrangements

In past decades when a couple married, it was typically a foregone conclusion that the woman would stay home to tend to children while the man worked and provided for his family. Today, however, traditional gender roles have shifted and changed dramatically with many women along with men choosing to work outside home and some men choosing to stay at home.

As a result, couples with children often make decisions with regard to child care and parenting roles that make the most sense for their family's situation. For example, in cases where a mom makes more money, the dad may choose to stay home and raise the child. In other cases, both parents continue to work outside the home after a child is born and both take an equal and active role in raising a child. Changing gender roles and how they relate to parenting and child rearing has raised many questions and concerns when it comes to divorce and child custody matters.

Previously, mothers were more likely to be granted child custody because they took on the role of primary caregiver. Today, however, many parents equally share childrearing responsibilities. Despite this fact more often than naught, when a couple divorces, mothers are awarded primary custody.

Research indicates that children benefit both academically and emotionally when they have the love, support and involvement of both parents. Yet, for many children, time spent with dad often consists of the odd weekday and every other weekend.

While some states have taken steps to advocate more strongly for joint child custody, there are many factors that affect whether or not a 50/50 custody arrangement is in a child's best interest. Matters related to a child's age, how close parents live to one another and a child's schedule must be taken into consideration when deciding custody matters. For example, a very young child may need more stability than a joint custody arrangement can provide while a 13-year-old boy may crave and need more time with his father.

Several states, including Maryland, are studying or considering measures related to joint custody. However, most have failed to pass any bills that strongly advocate for joint custody. In cases where a parent wants to push for joint custody or change the terms of an existing custody arrangement, an attorney can provide advice and assistance.

Source: WUWM. com, "Push To Change Custody Laws: What's Best For Kids?," Jennifer Ludden, Feb. 26, 2014