When California parents are ending their marriage, they might have the idea that the court will grant the mother primary physical custody of the children, assigning the father a small amount of visiting time. While this has been true in the past, the current push in states across the country is towards a more egalitarian sharing of parenting time and responsibility.
Missouri is one of several states that have passed a child custody reform law. Missouri's law states that judges may not award custody based on the respective genders of the parents or on the age of the children.Other states havepassed similar reform laws, including Utah, Minnesota and South Dakota. Arizona issued a proposal calling for shared parenting in 2010, and it has reportedly been successful. Twenty more states have child custody reform bills pending in their legislatures.
Several studies have shown that children who have frequent contacts with both parents are better adjusted than children who primarily only have contact with one. Despite this, courts in some states are still resistant to the idea. Shared parenting emphasizes that the parents should continue to enjoy the same relationships they had with their children before the marriage ended.
Child custody decisions are supposed to be made according to what is in the best interests of the child. Some courts are still entrenched in outdated ideas regarding gender and children, and this can have an adverse affect on fathers and their relationship with their children after a divorce. Those who are in the middle of a dispute may want to have their respective attorneys take the lead in negotiating a parenting agreement rather than leaving the decision up to a judge.