Virginia readers may be aware of the trend toward equal child custody splits when parents divorce or end their relationships. There is considerable social science research that supports the idea that children fair better when they continue to spend time with both parents after a family changes structure. This has led many states to consider shared child custody legislation, under which judges are directed to divide parenting time equally between both parents.
A shared custody bill recently passed through the senate in one state, and it is now heading for the house. Should that piece of legislation be signed into law, judges would begin all child custody cases with the presumption that equal custody is the best outcome for the child or children at the center of the case. Many people who support this change believe that fathers have long been placed at a disadvantage when seeking child custody rights, and that equally shared custody would help men remain connected to the lives of their children.
Those who oppose the bill believe that child custody matters are all unique. They argue that family court judges should be given the ability to weigh each case on its own merits and to make decisions that are in line with the particulars of each family. They also assert that a change such as this would lead to many women being dragged back into court to revisit existing custody orders, which would require them to hire attorneys.
As the matter moves forward, parents in Virginia and across the nation will follow the story to see whether the legislature allows the bill to become part of the state's body of law. More and more states are taking a close look at the concept of equally shared child custody. The outcome in one state can have an impact that reaches far beyond those borders and can lead to changes in other jurisdictions.
Source: postonpolitics.blog.palmbeachpost.com, "Child custody changes sweep through Florida Senate, amid fears it will hurt families", John Kennedy, Feb. 23, 2016