Divorcing California parents are often terribly conflicted and confused by the choices put before them regarding custody disputes.
When lawyers, judges, and mediators put forth the idea of shared parenting, it is sometimes rejected immediately and without consideration. This is particularly true in high conflict situations. An increasing body of evidence is showing that parents may be doing a disservice to their children by not at least considering shared parenting.
The national trend in determining custodial arrangements is for courts to apply a rebuttable presumption that equal time split between the parents is in the best interests of children in the wake of divorce.
The presumption can be rebutted by evidence showing children are better served by other arrangements but simple gender-based arguments are generally insufficient.
Research shows children are happiest when they have a meaningful relationship with both parents. This remains true even with very young children and kids from high conflict marriages. In fact, shared custody seems to have a stabilizing effect when parents are especially acrimonious and there is increased conflict between parents when there is a substantially unequal parenting time arrangement.
The prevailing standard is for courts to put in place plans that 'are in the best interests" of the children involved. For this reason, abusive, neglectful, or absentee parents are typically not considered candidates for equal parenting time, at least initially.
Equal parenting may also be set aside in favor of continuity if parental residences are a great distance apart or if work schedules are prohibitive, but the starting point for most judges and mediators is with the initial presumption for shared custody.
Deciding to end a marriage and split a home is emotional and difficult to make for many. Getting a consultation with an experienced family law attorney can help provide peace of mind and give clarity to anyone considering marital dissolution.