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Shared parenting may become more popular

When couples divorce, they have many issues that they must settle before they can truly part ways. They may have to reach an agreement regarding marital property. They may also try to reach an agreement on custody for their children. Connecticut is following suit with many other states that are considering making changes to how custody is awarded, specifically toward shared parenting.

The General Assembly in Connecticut established a task force to study family law issues. The task force was created to investigate whether the state should take the lead of other states that have a presumption in law that shared custody is in the best interest of the child. Lawmakers in Arkansas passed a new law in 2013 that would recognize such a presumption, in spite of a long history in case law that said that joint custody was not preferred. Maryland's General Assembly followed procedures similar to the Connecticut General Assembly. It is scheduled to issue a final report by Dec. 1, 2014. Florida introduced a bill in 2013 to consider shared parenting and reform alimony, but it was vetoed by the governor.

Proponents for change insist that it is in the child's best interest to share about an equal amount of time with each parent. The push for shared parenting is due, in part, to a shift in gender roles in which more women work and more men are caregivers than in decades past. Another reason for change is that the majority of Americans who have been polled say that they support shared parenting. Additionally, more noncustodial parents are feeling disenfranchised with old custody schemes.

If a parent is considering acquiring custody of his or her child, he or she may consult with a family law attorney. An attorney may be able to explain any recent changes in the law that can affect custody determinations.

Source: USA Today, "Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome", Jonathan Ellis, January 27, 2014

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