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Child custody should involve both parents, experts claim

Parents considering divorce typically consider the outcome not only for themselves, but for their children as well. Child custody is an understandably large concern for California parents who decide to untie the knot. However, for as much focus as parents and family law courts put on custody agreements and deciding what is in the best interests of a child, some experts maintain that legal precedence is being placed above data-driven alternatives to sole custody.

Shared custody is no longer quite as rare as it used to be, perhaps in part due to research that indicates children benefit the most from having access to both of their parents. However, awarding one parent sole custody and sequestering the other to visitation still occurs in about 83 percent of child custody cases. The effects can be profound when a child's access to both parents is denied or severely limited,and can include an increased risk for drug abuse or dropping out of high school.

The issue of sole custody has even been addressed by certain politicians, with at least one pointing out the extreme pressure that is placed on the parent with sole custody. Many experts appear to agree that the practice of awarding sole custody in the absence of extenuating circumstances is far from ideal. With data indicating that neither the child or parents win, it is not exactly clear why this trend continues.

Many organizations, including the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts and the American Psychological Association, agree on research and data that clearly links children's well-being to shared parental custody. California parents who have already divorced and agreed to a child custody plan might be under the all-too-common false impression that custody agreements are fixed. Because of this, some believe that there is little to no hope of achieving shared custody after one parent has already been awarded sole custody. On the contrary, parents are well within their rights to petition the family law court for a change or modification to a previously established agreement, which can at times yield results that are more focused and attuned to a child's best interests.

Source: suffolknewsherald.com, "After divorce, shared parenting is important", Kristen Paasch, Jan. 8, 2016

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