Child custody could be changing in today's divorce cases. Lawmakers in several states across the nation are considering the possibility that parents who divorce should get equal custody of the children in most cases. Individual custody could still be awarded to one parent, of course, if the other parent has a history of abuse or some other reason that would make them unfit as a primary caregiver.
A bill that included shared custody along with alimony reform passed the Florida legislature last year, but the governor vetoed it. Meanwhile, other states are considering similar measures.
According to advocacy groups, a few salient points are turning the tide in favor of shared custody, including data showing that most Americans endorse the concept. Additionally, because custodial parents' leverage has increased in recent decades, non-custodial parents are seeking ways to have more influence on their children's lives.
In 2014, it isn't uncommon for fathers to be the primary caretakers of children and mothers to work outside the home. This is another fact that leaves the current mindset of child custody needing revision.
The National Parent Organization also argues that giving primary custody to one parent sets the stage for resentment and a lot of difficult divorces. While shared custody isn't appropriate in every case, allowing for it in state law could result in happier families and friendly ex-spouses.
If shared custody becomes the norm nationwide, judges may operate under newly devised state guidelines for awarding shared custody that would give them room to make an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. That, of course, is always the main objective in any custody arrangement in every state.
Source: USA Today, "Shared Parenting Could Be New Divorce Outcome," Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 28, 2014