Most courts and divorce experts prefer co-parenting in standard divorce cases. This does create some work for the parents, who need to communicate and work together to raise the children, but it is generally thought to be in the kids’ best interests.
It hasn’t always been this way. Perhaps you and your spouse plan to split up, and you figured your spouse would get the children and you would pay child support. While that certainly could happen, you should know that more and more decisions tend to focus on creating parenting agreements and giving each person shared custody.
What you should know
So, what are the reasons for this focus on co-parenting? Here are a few important ones:
- The children still have a relationship with both of their parents. With sole custody, there is always the risk of the non-custodial parent’s relationship fading.
- Children often prefer shared parenting. While their preferences do not always decide cases, it is important to take them into account.
- In some cases, parents run into fewer post-divorce conflicts with shared parenting.
- Both parents can still take on the caregiver roles that they held when they were married. These roles do not change as dramatically for either the parents or the children.
- Parents both get to express their desires regarding the way they want to raise their children. They certainly entered parenthood with goals and plans, and they still get to see those through even after divorce.
- Chances of parental alienation go down. Parental alienation happens when the children, often with the influence of the custodial parent, begin to shun the non-custodial parent.
- Parents appear more likely to follow parenting orders when both stay involved in the children’s lives. The equal division of responsibility and rights makes it less likely that parents will break the orders, which sometimes happens when one parents feels unfairly cut out.
- Shared parenting addresses serious issues like equality between both parents, responsibilities and rights, parental authority and the like. One gender does not see favoritism over the other.
- Guidelines in court tend to stay consistent when using shared parenting. With sole custody, some parents complain that the guidelines do not get applied to their case in the same way they got applied to a similar case.
- Empirical evidence suggests repeatedly that shared parenting responsibility provides benefits for children and their parents.
Above all else, children’s needs must come first. Studies have shown that many children demonstrate better development and see greater success in life when both parents stay involved and share parenting duties. Naturally, that does not mean you and your spouse will stay married, but it is important to know all of your rights as a parent during the split.