Shared parenting in child custody cases

In the last several years, child custody reform laws have been implemented across the U.S., and many states, including Minnesota, have put more emphasis on shared parenting following a separation or divorce. Studies show that children are happier overall when both parents are actively present in their lives, and spending equal or comparable time with both parents is paramount to a child's well-being.

While shared parenting laws differ by state, they are similar at their core, challenging the long-standing belief that a child having a primary single dwelling is of higher importance than spending a roughly equal amount of time with both parents. This may have a positive impact on father's rights, according to lawmakers. In the past, mothers have typically been selected as a child's primary caretaker following a divorce, leaving many fathers with little say in how their children are raised.

Custody decisions in the past were often made based on a child's age or gender, with mothers typically awarded primary custody of younger children, but those parameters are no longer a factor in the majority of shared parenting agreements. Proponents of these new laws hope that more states adopt shared parenting bills, and sources indicate that 20 states have child custody reform measures in their legislative pipeline.

An ideal child custody agreement should have the best interests of the child as its primary focus. Couples who are going through a divorce or working to resolve a custody dispute may find that mediation helps them reach an amicable solution. A parent who is finding it difficult to come to an agreement with their former spouse regarding legal custody and visitation may wish to seek advice from a family law attorney.

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