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Fairer child custody arrangements can be better for the children

Life is not always fair, no matter how hard one tries to make it so. In the case of divorce, what is seen to be fair by one spouse may not be viewed in the same way by the other. Child custody is one area where it can be difficult for California parents to reach an agreement on what is fair.

In an attempt to make child custody fairer, efforts are underway in another state to enact a law requiring courts to presume that a noncustodial parent is entitled to parenting time ranging from 33 to 50 percent. Some California residents will be familiar with the plight of many parents who may have spent a considerable sum on legal costs and yet still find themselves with as few as 71 days per year in total spent with their children. This equates to less than 20 percent of parenting time.

It can be easy for couples to resort to the more commonly accepted arrangements, such as every other weekend. Some studies show that this could be detrimental not only to the relationship of the noncustodial parent and child, but to the child's general well-being. In most cases, spending equal time with each parent is likely to be of greater benefit to the child, who may then feel less like he or she has to choose sides when mom and dad are going through a divorce.

This is a nationwide issue, and 25 other states are also considering measures to change the laws regarding child custody in a similar manner. There are always exceptions to any rule, and for some California residents there may be very good reason to limit the amount of time that their child spends with the other parent. When courts are required to decide these issues, the judge will endeavor to issue a child custody order that is based on the best interests of the child involved.

Source: bismarcktribune.com, "Shared parenting bill is back", Caroline Grueskin, March 8, 2017

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