Shared parenting after divorce may seem like the norm to many people. However, just a few states have laws on the books that make it so. Some 90 percent of child custody cases decided by family courts result in one parent having sole custody.
Legislatures in half of the country have recently considered making joint child custody the law rather than letting courts assign one "custodial" parent if a case goes before a judge. The proposed and adopted state laws recognize that shared parenting after divorce is generally in the best interests of the children. Of course, they allow discretion by judges if it's determined that joint custody would harm a child.
The Impact of Shared Custody on Children's Education
One of the key areas in which children have been found to thrive by continuing to have both parents in their lives after a marital break-up is schooling. Research has found that close to three-fourths of kids who drop out of high school are in single-parent households.
Children of divorce who live with their non-custodial parent at least 35 percent of the time do better in all aspects of their lives, including at school, than those who live with just one parent. Further, even kids who see their non-custodial parent just every other weekend do better as long as that parent is involved in their schooling.
Research conducted in Sweden, where co-parenting by divorced parents has been the norm for some time has found that children whose parents share custody do only slightly worse than children whose parents are together. Even though Swedish single parents without a lot of money have a stronger social safety net than economically-disadvantaged Americans, kids raised by only one parent still don't fare as well as those with both parents in their lives.
A "Single Parent" Can't Do it All
Children are more likely to thrive when both parents are involved in their lives and their education. An overworked single parent can't always be expected to ensure that homework is getting done and assignments and projects are completed on time.
By being able to turn to both parents, kids are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. They're also less likely to have behavioral and substance abuse issues as well as other physical and mental health problems.
Regardless of your issues with your estranged spouse, staying in your child's life after divorce should be a priority. Experienced family law attorneys work to help parents achieve that goal for their children's and their own well-being.
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