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Lawmakers across the country consider shared parenting

A 2014 report about shared parenting released by the National Parents Organization gave the custody laws in Pennsylvania a grade of D, but most other states fared no better. Only Iowa, South Dakota, Idaho, Arizona, Louisiana and Alaska received a B grade, and no state was awarded an A. Lawmakers in many states are aware that custody laws have often failed to account for evolving gender roles, and legislative bodies across the country are beginning to look at shared parenting more closely.

Fathers often have a particularly difficult time during child custody disputes, and census data reveals that mothers are the custodial parents in about 83 percent of the cases. While courts consider the best interests of the child when making these decisions, growing evidence suggests that shared custody may often provide a better outcome. Divorce places a great deal of stress on children, but an April 2015 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that children who spend a significant amount of time with both parents were better able to cope with these pressures.

Lawmakers in Utah, Maine and Nebraska are considering bills that would change the way that child custody decisions are made or require judges hearing these cases to consider the merits of shared parenting, and bills calling for 50/50 custody have been introduced in Colorado and Texas. According to the NPO, Pennsylvania law does not contain any language that expressly encourages shared parenting.

Emotions often run high during child custody disputes, and parents sometimes find it difficult to accept a compromise solution when their positions become entrenched. The child custody laws may sometimes seem capricious and unfair to parents, and an experienced family law attorney may seek to avoid the uncertainty of court proceedings by encouraging frank and open discussions.

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