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Is equal parenting time in the best interests of the child? PART 1

There has been a lot of talk when it comes to how child custody is decided in Florida and across the country. Many states have taken on the debate of whether equal parenting time is more beneficial for the child than giving one parent sole custody.

When we look at the history of child custody going way back, there was a paternal preference as late as the 1800s. The tables turned in the early 20th century when women emerged as domestic caregivers and the "tender years" presumption led to a lot of mothers getting sole custody of young children.

Fast-forward to today and this presumption has been slowly replaced with gender-neutral standards of custody. These standards have morphed as gender roles changed in our society and attention was brought to the importance of each parent being involved in taking care of the child.

As formal rules died out, the new and less defined "best interests of the child" standard came to be. This allows for quite a bit of discretion but also a lot of inconsistency.  Slowly we have moved away from the idea that a child needs a full-time residence for stability to the idea that neither parent should be just a visitor. A 2014 study has shown a significant shift toward shared custody. But is this move toward shared parenting really looking out for the best interests of the child or could it be concentrating more on the needs of the parents involved? We will discuss this further in our next post.

Source: Washington Post, "There's a great way to figure out child custody. Most divorce courts don't use it." J. Herbie DiFonzo, Nov. 14

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