What about Custody Laws in other States?
Oklahoma: “It is the policy of this state to assure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interests of their children and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. To effectuate this policy, if requested by a parent, the court shall provide substantially equal access to the minor children to both parents at a temporary order hearing, unless the court finds that such shared parenting would be detrimental to such child. The burden of proof that such shared parenting would be detrimental to such child shall be upon the parent requesting sole custody and the reason for such determination shall be documented in the court record”.
Wisconsin: 767.24 (4) (a) "The court shall set a placement schedule that allows the child to have regularly occurring, meaningful periods of physical placement with each parent and that maximizes the amount of time the child may spend with each parent, taking into account geographic separation and accommodations for different households".
Colorado: “Legislative declaration. The general assembly finds and declares that it is in the best interest of all parties to encourage frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the minor children of the marriage after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. In order to effectuate this goal, the general assembly urges parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing and to encourage the love, affection, and contact between the children and the parents”.
Florida: “It is the public policy of this state to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing”.
Iowa: “The court, insofar as is reasonable and in the best interest of the child, shall order the custody award, including liberal visitation rights where appropriate, which will assure the child the opportunity for the maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved the marriage, and which will encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising the child unless direct physical harm or significant emotional harm to the child, other children, or a parent is likely to result from such contact with one parent”.
Louisiana: “ "Shared custody" means a joint custody order in which each parent has physical custody of the child for an approximately equal amount of time”.
Maine: “The Legislature finds and declares that it is the public policy of this State to assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage and that it is in the public interest to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy”.
Missouri: "Joint physical custody" means an order awarding each of the parents significant, but not necessarily equal, periods of time during which a child resides with or is under the care and supervision of each of the parents. Joint physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents; Joint physical and joint legal custody to both parents, which shall not be denied solely for the reason that one parent opposes a joint physical and joint legal custody award”.
Texas: “The public policy of this state is to:(1) assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child; (2) provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and (3) encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage”.
Alaska: Unless it is shown to be detrimental to the welfare of the child, the child shall have, to the greatest degree practical, equal access to both parents during the time that the court considers an award of custody.
The court may award shared custody to both parents if shared custody is determined by the court to be in the best interests of the child. An award of shared custody shall assure that the child has frequent and continuing contact with each parent to the maximum extent possible.
California: “The Legislature finds and declares that it is the public policy of this state to assure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, or ended their relationship, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy…”
Washington, D.C: (Actual introduction on the D.C. Parenting Plan form) `District of Columbia law contains a “rebuttable presumption” that joint custody is in the best interests of the child. The term “rebuttable presumption” means that the judge will order joint physical custody and joint legal custody unless one of the parties presents evidence which shows that another arrangement will be better for the child. Joint physical custody means that each parent will have substantial time with the child (usually between 40% and 60%)…”
MINIMUM PARENTING GUIDELINES
( ) denotes estimated overnights January, 2003
“Shared Parenting” (joint physical custody)
No Language in Custodial Statutes - Joint Legal Custody is the preferred custody, not joint physical custody
Weekends - Ages 3-5
One overnight on alternating weekends - Saturday Morning to Sunday evening
Weekends - Ages 6 and up
Alternate weekends from Friday @ 5:30 pm to Sunday at 7 p.m.
Weekdays - Ages 3-5
One mid-week visit
Weekdays - Ages 6 and up
1-2 midweek visits of 2-3 hours
Split Equally (4)
Total Overnights / Year
3-5 (66 - 170)** 6 + (93)
Percentage of Total Overnights per Year
3-5 18% - 47%** 6 + 26%
** It is predicted that the majority of infant, toddler and preschooler cases result in the lower end of overnights for noncustodial parents unless both parents agree to more.
Summary: According to the South Dakota Standard Guidelines, with a preference of Joint Legal custody not joint physical custody, Infants are allowed a maximum of 56 overnights (15%) with the noncustodial parent. Toddlers can spend 108 - 156 (30% - 43%) overnights with the noncustodial parent**. Preschoolers can spend 66 - 170 (18% - 47%)** with the noncustodial parent. Meanwhile, children, ages 6 and up spend 93 (26%) overnights with their noncustodial parent.
BENEFITS OF RECOGNIZING FATHERS ARE IMPORTANT
(As per current studies)
The amount of time a father spends with a child is one of the strongest predictors of empathy in childhood.
Living without a Dad doubled a child's chance of dropping out of high school.
The most important factor by far in preventing drug use is a close relationship with Dad.
Overall, 65 percent of juvenile prisoners were brought up without dads.
Boys who live with their fathers after divorce tend to be warmer, have a higher degree of self-esteem, be more mature and be more independent that boys who live with their mothers after divorce.
Divorce's biggest disaster, from the child's perspective, is loss of contact with a parent.
For a school age daughter, this “doing everyday-type things together with the parent she is not living with is the only predictor of psychological well being.
Children who live with their dads are likely to have more contact with their moms and feel better about their moms than vice-versa. Put another way, children who live with their dads are more likely to have, in effect, two parents.
The research is absolutely clear…the one human being most capable of curbing the antisocial aggression of a boy is his biological father
Meaningful father-child relationships may encourage fathers to remain involved in their children's lives by making them feel enfranchised as a parent.
Sometimes a dad's sense of powerlessness makes him withdraw. The moment we see our dads more positively, we have a more positive view of our own worthiness of their love and attention, and we begin to alter or view as to how we want dads to fit into the family
The message to men is clear: you are your children's visitor and then we wonder why men don't participate equally in childcare.
If we expect men to be psychologically involved, we need to give men equal psychological time. If we expect men to be legally responsible, then close to equal time needs to be a legal right.
Equal parenting begins with equal parenting. Equal parenting will not begin though if men know that the investment of their heart will be treated with contempt by the law.
How can we ask men to be more involved with children when we put them in prison, deprive them of equal access and require them to pay more.
WHY IS MAXIMIZING A CHILD'S TIME WITH BOTH PARENTS BENEFICIAL
(as per current studies)
There is absolutely no evidence that children's psychological adjustment or the relationship between children and their parents are harmed when children spend overnight periods with the other parent. Indeed, there is substantial evidence regarding the benefits of these regular experiences.
When children live with only their moms, the parents are nine times as likely to have conflict as when children live with their dads.
Other advantages of overnights are the normal combination of leisure and “real” time that extended parenting affords, the ability to stay abreast of the constant and complex changes in the child's development, opportunities for effective discipline and teaching that are central to good parenting and opportunities to reconnect with a child in a meaningful way.
But in practice, the children need both parents and the children's needs should not be legislated away for a woman's preference.
Joint custody couples reported less conflict; possibly because both parents could participate in their children's lives equally and not spend the time arguing over childcare decisions. Unfortunately a perception exists that joint custody is more harmful because it exposes children to ongoing higher levels of conflict.
In states that adopt shared parenting time, divorce rates drop within a few years. There is a significant correlation between joint physical custody awards and reduced divorce rates.
Shared parenting time resulted in less sibling rivalry and fewer negative attitudes toward the parents even within the first few months after separation
Overall, dual-residence adolescents were better adjusted than were mother-residence adolescents.
The research reviewed supports the conclusion that joint custody is associated with certain favorable outcomes for children including father involvement; best interest of the child for adjustment outcomes, child support, reduced relitigation costs and sometime reduced parental conflict.
Joint custody is also the preferred option in high conflict situations because it helps reduce the conflict over time - - and that is in the best interest of the children.
Children have expressed higher levels of satisfaction with joint physical custody than with sole custody arrangements; citing the benefit of remaining close to both parents.
When both parents share the social and economic responsibilities of childcare, children appear to adapt better to their changed living arrangements than when the mothers bear these responsibilities alone.
Conflict between divorcing parents did not appear to worsen as a result of the increased demand for interparental cooperation and communication in joint legal or joint residential custody arrangements.
These findings indicate that children do not actually need to be in a joint physical custody to show better adjustment but just need to spend substantial time with both parents, especially their fathers.
The benefits of maintaining contact with both parents exceed any special need for relationships with male or female parents.
Children are more likely to be poor after divorce and more likely to experience instability. However, moderating factors include children's coping skills and the presence of joint custody.
Even the most contentions parents can make joint custody work with highly structured visitation schedules.
Well put yourself in your kids place. How would “you” feel about being shunted between two different homes making sure that each parent has an equal amount of time?
“Well as someone who did it for going on 12 years of her childhood, I'd say that I'm in a pretty good position to talk. And its not being “shunted” - the kids have two homes. They have two caring and secure parents who are willing to accommodate them. Neither parent gets to be the “fun” parent - the one who gets summers and weekends. Neither parent is solely in charge of decisions. I'd say its a lot more secure than being separated from one of your parents because of divorce. Its a lot more secure than getting a sense that one parent is more important and more valued than the other. It is more secure than having to travel across distances or time. I was one of those kids who spent half a week with my Dad and half with my Mom. There was nothing “shuttling” about it - I had too houses and a strong, consistent schedule. My parents had space away from us. Frankly, if I weren't so committed to being married to my husband, I'd say it's a damned good way to raise a kid.
Senate Bill 60 - A Shared Parenting Bill
Encourages the best in all of our citizens, mother or father
Provides the tool for both parents to be actively involved in their lives and allows children to spend substantial time with both parents
Places both parents on an equal level and recognizes that both parents are a significant part of their children's lives
Provides balance and empowers both parents to continue, maintain and develop their relationship with their children
Reduces the emotional and financial costs involved in the current adversarial reality of custody litigation
Increases the opportunity for grieving family members of divorce to experience less loss and pain
Discourages many of the barriers that keep fathers away from their children or limit their access to their children
Recognizes and accounts for the 5% of parents who have a history of child abuse or neglect, abandonment, domestic violence or significant problems with alcohol or drug abuse or have no desire to be an active, responsible parent to their children
Strongly considers current child developmental research and social studies
Takes into consideration, what is beneficial not only for the children but the family as well
Minimizes the opportunity for parent alienation to occur in families apart
Preserves and protects all family member's rights under our Federal and State constitution
Reduces the number of divorces in states
Is inherently designed to reduce litigation and to address a “hostile veto” by one parent or the other
Minimizes the opportunity for control, power plays or conflict
“But when the woman's right to move away means that the father and children will become strangers, then the woman's right is no more a unilateral right than is the children's or the father's right to each other's love” (and vice-versa).
The 1997 Proposed Model Relocation Act as proposed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers: A model to be considered by state legislatures:
RELOCATION: The wish to relocate poses the most dramatic example of the conflicting needs and wishes of parents and children and of the conflicting needs and wishes of custodial and noncustodial parents. For the most part, children do not wish to leave the environment in which they live nor do they wish to leave their noncustodial parent, who also does not want them to go. Again it becomes a balance act that needs to be carefully scrutinized and should not be easily permitted without strict due process. It is difficult for the courts and the parties.
Any move of even a relatively short distance may create other problems if it impedes access to the children or involves a change of school district. Any move from the child's principal residence. 60 day notice, requirements of notice, protection health or safety issues that would put a person or child at risk upon disclosure (still need to get judges approval), and factors to determine contested relocation:
The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child's relationship with the person proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating person, siblings, and other significant persons in the child's life;
The age, developmental state, needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child's physical, educational and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child;
The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating person and the child through suitable parenting arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties;
The child's preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child;
Whether there is an established pattern of conduct of the person seeking the relocation, either to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the non-relocating person;
Whether the relocation of the child will enhance the general quality of life for both the custodial party seeking the relocation and the child, including but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity;
The reasons for each person for seeking or opposing the relocation;
Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child