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"Equal" child custody may not be the best outcome

The manner in which child custody is handled in the American court system has seen a number of changes over the course of history. In the early days of our nation, men received full rights to their children in the event of a divorce. Later, the presumption was made that mothers hold superior nurturing abilities, and men were hard-pressed to obtain significant rights to their kids. Currently, courts in Maryland and beyond have signed on to the belief that child custody should be shared equally between divorcing parents, an idea that has received considerable criticism.

Perhaps the most significant problem with this approach is that is takes the focus away from the best interests of the child and shifts it toward fulfilling the interests of the parents. In the push to find an "equal" division of parenting time, the needs of the shared children can be easily overlooked. In fact, in many cases, truly "equal" custody is simply not a realistic goal.

Consider the division of parental duties within an intact marriage. In most families, one spouse already assumes the bulk of child care duties, while the other places a greater focus on providing for the family outside of the home. However, when such a couple divorces, the current family law trend is to work out a system by which the less-involved parent is able to gain "equal" parenting time. Imagine what disruption this could cause in the life of a child, as he or she is forced into a structure that bears no resemblance to what has become the status quo.

When considering how to divide both the joys and responsibilities of parenting, Maryland residents should focus primarily on the needs of the children at the center of the matter. By placing their best interests at the forefront, it is easier to create a division of duties that allows kids to move forward with as little disruption as possible. The solution will be unique for each family, but the concept of equality should never be the primary focus during child custody negotiations.

Source: The Washington Post, "No, children should not spend equal time with their divorced parents", J. Herbie DiFonzo, Nov. 14, 2014

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