Joint child custody arrangements becoming more popular

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, May 28, 2014.

According to a study recently published in Demography magazine, custody agreements shared between parents is becoming more popular with judges. This increased reliance on joint custody arrangements has ramifications for parents in Missouri who are contemplating divorce or modification of child custody matters.

Child custody is often one of the most stressful parts of a divorce since it represents an often-dramatic change in living arrangements, especially for the most vulnerable parties involved in the proceedings: the minor children. The study was conducted reviewing court records between 1988 and 2008 and found that the percentage of mothers who are awarded sole custody of children is on the decline in favor of joint custody and shared parenting agreements. In fact, the numbers were rather shocking, showing a decrease from 80 percent to 42 percent of mothers receiving sole custody. There were no significant changes in the amount of cases where the father was awarded sole custody.

One significant statistic not covered by the study includes the number of children born in single-parent households. Even though unmarried women give birth to 45 percent of babies born in America and often have to deal with custody issues, these cases were not taken into account in the study numbers.

This study is significant in that it shows a dramatic shift in favor of co-parenting arrangements. People who assume that they (or their spouse) will be awarded custody may find that their assumptions were wrong in many custody cases. This study suggests that both parents may be allowed and expected to play an active role in a child’s life. Whether this is favorable or not, it is crucial for parents to protect their rights and the well-being of their children.

Judges in Missouri must make child custody recommendations based on the best interests of the child, but different judges and courtrooms may interpret relevant differently. That’s why it’s crucial for a divorcing parent to consult a family law attorney who has handled similar cases in child custody. Being prepared for child custody proceedings may help reduce the time, anxiety, and costs invested in the outcome.

Source: Time, “Divorce: Shared Custody of Kids is on the Rise,” Charlotte Alter, May 22, 2014

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