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Shared parenting laws: what are the pros and cons?

Extensive studies into social science have demonstrated that children benefit from having two involved parents, including the father. Children whose fathers have higher self-esteem, better academic records and perform better on a range of emotional, physical and behavioral health measures. These statistics have long been ignored by divorce judges, according to father's rights advocates groups that are pushing for legislation to adopt co-parenting as the norm.

It may not come as a surprise for New York residents to hear that divorce judges have long been accused of favoring mothers when it comes to child custody decisions, with fathers leaving a court as visitors and mothers leaving as single parents. However, as courts begin to include shared parenting in their child custody decisions, a number of states have begun considering bills that would make shared parenting a presumption, even when parents disagree.

Fathers feeling alienated from their children and burdened by child support obligations have pushed for this change, but critics are quick to point out that the laws may roll back important protections in place against abusive or controlling former spouses. Additionally, they claim the bills remove the judge's discretion when it comes to making decisions in the child's best interests. They also point out that more and more parents are opting for shared custody, therefore these bills are more or less unnecessary. The bills could lead to a reduction or elimination of child support, which plays an important role in making ends meet for most parents receiving them.

Child custody decisions are fraught with emotions and difficult compromises, but at the end of the day whatever is in the best interests of the child must prevail. While shared parenting may work for some, it is not necessarily the best option for everyone. Consulting an experienced attorney to discuss child custody options may be beneficial for New York residents.

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