As a family mediator I help divorcing parents to create child/parent visitation schedules that would work for them as well as for their children. The trend that my colleagues and I are noticing is as follows: while in the past it was the most common for the kids to stay with their mothers with occasional visits from the fathers, now more and more parents realize that kids need both of them and both parents need their children.
It is very difficult to present the actual custody data because states do not keep records of custody outcomes. Also sometimes parents come up with one custody plan in mediation and then implement something different in reality. However, shared custody is definitely the preferred choice for many divorcing parents nowadays. The definition of “shared parenting” is fluid. An arrangement might not be strictly 50/50 – one week at mom’s place and the other at dad’s. Parents sometimes come up with very creative, unorthodox solutions for their shared custody plans. The main purpose of these plans is giving the opportunity to the children to spend a lot of times with both parents.
The rise of joint custody is attributed to a variety of factors, including changing gender roles, women taking on careers and men becoming more involved in their children’s upbringing.
There are few points that parents need to take into account when they want to implement shared custody arrangements. Ideally, they should live in close proximity to each other, and each parent must be extra-organized. Parents should also realize that it will take time for them and for their children to adjust to their new and hectic schedules. Once these barriers are overcome, the benefits will over shine the challenges. Research shows that children in shared custody arrangements showed fewer behavioral problems and had better relationships with both parents which is crucial to children’s development.
There is only one caveat – parents should get along. High-conflict environment, especially when it places children in the center of parental arguments, is detrimental for children. It completely nullifies the benefits that the dual residence arrangement can provide.