A Kentucky law promoting shared parenting that went into effect earlier in 2017 could increase gender equality and family happiness. Nationwide, family courts have in the past skewed their physical custody decisions overwhelmingly toward mothers. The effects of this have kept women dependent on child support payments, limited their career opportunities because of constant child care duties and separated fathers from their children.
Shared custody grants both parents roughly equal time. This frees mothers from some child care demands and gives them more opportunities to develop a career instead of being tied to the home every day. Children benefit from the arrangement as well because they can develop and maintain meaningful relationships with both parents. Children desire closeness with both mothers and fathers, according to multiple research studies. Fathers also benefit from bonding with their children instead of suffering the heartache of separation caused by weekend-only visits.
Internationally, shared custody is much more prevalent than in the United States. Sweden has emphasized the need for both parents to have custody of children for years. Canada also promotes shared parenting and has a much higher percentage of women in the workforce than the United States.
Most courts award shared legal custody when parents of young children are ending their marriages. What this does is give each parent the right to contribute to certain decisions that affect their children, such as education, religion and health care. In the absence of a pattern of domestic violence or substance abuse, courts are increasingly awarding shared physical custody as well. A parent who wants this type of an arrangement might want to have the advocacy of an attorney when seeking such an order from a judge.