After a divorce, the roles that parents have in their children's lives are going to change. It's inevitable. They have to split up parenting time and obligations.
While doing this, many experts believe that the focus should be on making sure that both parents stay involved in their children's lives. They warn against custody agreements that heavily favor one parent -- a split where the father only sees the children for 20% of the time, for instance. It's far better to be closer to a 50-50 split in most cases.
Why is it better? What evidence is there that it's in the children's best interests? Studies have found that kids who stay close to both parents, with both involved in their lives, are more likely to:
- Have academic success
- Avoid illegal drug use
- Avoid alcohol abuse
- Stay out of prison
- Avoid depression and similar disorders
- Find gainful employment when they grow up
- Avoid teen pregnancy
Naturally, you can always find exceptions to the rule, and these studies don't say that children with two involved parents won't get in trouble with drugs or struggle in school. They just point out that negative outcomes are statistically more likely when the children feel like one parent has essentially exited their lives after the divorce. Parental involvement from both of them helps lower the odds of these negative events and promotes a successful future.
This is something you want to keep in mind when ending your marriage, as the focus of the child custody agreement should be the children's best interests. Make sure you know what legal steps to take.