Debate over shared parenting laws heats up across the country

The debate around shared parenting is heating up, with legislatures across the U.S. debating proposed laws.

Many legislatures are currently weighing the pros and cons of shared parenting

Dozens of state legislatures across the United States are currently debating the merits and drawbacks of proposed shared parenting laws, according to the Wall Street Journal. Such shared parenting laws have unleashed a considerable amount of controversy not only among family law experts, but the general population as well. If successfully passed, these laws could drastically alter the way courts approach child custody cases by mandating a certain amount of time that a child must be with each parent following a divorce.

More shared parenting

While every state is different in how it approaches the debate over shared parenting, they all have certain aspects in common. Some states, such as New York, Colorado and Washington, want to make a 50-50 split in parenting time the law unless an alternative split would be more beneficial to the child. Other states are taking a less drastic approach by simply mandating a minimum amount of time the non-custodial parent must spend with the child.

Those in favor of shared parenting laws say that both parents have a right to spend an equal amount of time with their children. Many fathers' rights groups, specifically, claim that judges and courts are biased against them in favor of sole custody being awarded to the mother.

Unintended consequences abound

Opponents of shared parenting, however, call such laws mandating equal parenting time to be downright dangerous. They point out that shared parenting laws put parents who feel intimidated or dominated by the other parent in a vulnerable position, since the vulnerable parent may have to prove why an equal split in parenting time is not in a child's best interests. Furthermore, according to Forbes, shared parenting laws give some particularly unscrupulous parents an easier way to fight for equal parenting time solely as a way of lowering their child support payments.

Critics also contend that shared parenting proposals are misguided since very few child custody cases ever actually go to court, and those that do usually involve such a high degree of conflict that shared parenting would probably not be appropriate anyway. Those critics point out that judicial discretion, which shared parenting laws would limit, is already in place to make sure that custody arrangements are in a child's best interests.

Family law concerns

For parents who want to maintain a presence in their child's life, trying to gain or maintain custody can be a frightening prospect. Child custody is too important an issue to ever be left to anyone who doesn't have extensive experience with family law. As such, parents who have concerns about their own child custody case should contact a family law attorney immediately. An experienced and qualified attorney can direct parents in how to proceed with their child custody cases and advise them about what decisions may be in their families' best interests.

Keywords: child custody, divorce