No breakup is ever easy, but when children are involved it becomes especially difficult. Custody decisions are often the most emotional and challenging aspect of the divorce process. Many questions will arise regarding who has the parental rights to care for and control what is happening in the child’s life. Which parent will the children live with? Who will make important life decisions on their behalf?
In the State of Pennsylvania, parents must enter into child custody and parenting plan agreements that are in the best interest of the children. The courts recognize the belief that it is in the best interests of every child to spend time with both parents. However, shared parenting is still unusual post-separation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, shared joint custody occurs less than 20 percent of the time, despite overwhelming research that shows children need and prefer equal access to both parents.
The most typical custody arrangement is to place children with one parent 80 to 85 percent of the time, leaving the other parent only a few days a month to spend time with the children. This absence of shared parental rights forces one of the parents into a role that more resembles a visitor than a parent. A once dedicated and involved parent now only gets to spend time with their children every other weekend and Tuesdays for dinner. It’s heartbreaking, for both the children and the parent.
Missouri Legislators are trying to change this. They are currently considering a bill that will add language to child custody laws that will promote shared parenting and emphasize that a child’s best interest is to have equal access to both parents, as opposed to sole or primary rights. If passed, the bill will reduce the number of malicious custody battles. Rulings are often viewed as one parent winning and the other losing. Family courts will be required to focus on the research on the best interest of children in these situations. Numerous studies have shown that children don’t manage as well in primary or sole custody arrangements. In cases where a child has two loving and fit parents, this legislation will encourage the courts to create a plan that will provide that child with as much time with both parents as possible.
At the Law Office of Smith & Horwitz, our Philadelphia joint custody lawyers have extensive experience creating joint custody, or shared custody, arrangements for parents throughout the area. Contact us at (215) 515-8464 to learn how we can put our experience to work for you.