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Child custody analysts debate sharing parental responsibility

One of the more positive trends in family law from the past year is the increasing acceptance of shared parenting. While Florida's attempt to pass applicable legislation was not successful, over 20 states are now entertaining bills that could make equal parental responsibility the legal presumption in child custody cases. Such a trend mostly affects fathers, who have traditionally been reduced to the role of a visitor after a contentious divorce. While fathers' rights groups applaud the shift, some factions are still reluctant to support legislation.

Some lawmakers oppose forcing judges to presume the equality of both parents because they say it removes the court's ability to act in the best interests of the child in cases of domestic violence. However, the bills introduced around the country apparently directly address the possibility that one parent is abusive. Proponents of shared parenting say rejecting the bill on this account deprives children of the benefit of building a strong relationship with both parents.

Other challengers of the change say that divorcing parents are already learning to make more equitable child custody decisions on their own, so such laws may only affect a small percentage of families. There is also the issue of child support, which may be unnecessary if spouses are sharing parenting responsibilities. Some worry that mothers, who typically earn lower wages, may end up struggling without child support payments.

Child custody laws concerning shared parental responsibility in Florida continue to evolve. Parents may have many questions about how to protect their children and their own parental rights. Speaking with an attorney who is well-versed in current law may allow parents to proceed confidently through whatever family law issues they are facing.

Source: uticaod.com, "Shared-parenting bills could reshape custody battles", Michael Alison Chandler, Dec. 31, 2017

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