California parents who have gotten divorced may prefer that they both play a role in raising their children after the marriage ends. In recent years, lawmakers in several states have also pushed for parents to have an equitable role in raising children after a divorce. For some legislators, it may be a way to advance an agenda of gender equality. Creating a shared parenting arrangement may be a way to get parents to cooperate during divorce proceedings.
Instead of two people fighting for the right to be a parent, the law can dictate that both parents will have a role in their child's life. This may prevent one person leaving a custody hearing feeling like a part-time visitor as opposed to a true parent. In many cases, women tend to be given custody of children as they have long been seen as better caregivers.
This has generally been true even as laws have changed to reflect changing gender roles. However, women's rights groups fear that wage and other inequalities could be exacerbated by shared parenting. For instance, it could lead to the loss of child support payments that may be vital to helping mothers make ends meet if they cannot work. They also fear that shared parenting could keep an abusive partner in a woman's life.
In a divorce, the question of which parent gets custody of a child may be a contentious one. However, it may be possible to use mediation or collaborative law processes to come to an amicable agreement. Parents should remember that the goal of a custody arrangement is to preserve the child's best interests. Therefore, it may be ideal if both parents play a role in a child's life regardless of their feelings toward each other.