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Shared parenting as an option in divorce

Connecticut parents who are divorcing might want to consider joint physical custody instead of the traditional arrangement in which one parent, almost always the mother, gets custody of the child while the other parent has visitation rights and spends much less time with the child. There is a growing body of research about the benefits of shared parenting for children after a divorce, and the arrangement can work better for parents as well.

According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, even very young children benefit from shared custody arrangements. Further research supporting joint custody was presented at the 2017 International Conference on Shared Parenting in Boston. In Sweden and other countries, shared parenting is the norm. Mothers still get custody in over 80 percent of cases in the United States, but this is changing slowly. Missouri and Kentucky are among the states that have passed legislation to encourage shared parenting, and others are considering similar laws.

Because shared parenting treats both parents with equality, they have the opportunity to step out of traditional roles. After a divorce, fathers traditionally supported their children but were unable to spend much time with them while having custody meant mothers might be constrained in their careers. Joint physical custody lets fathers build a relationship with their children and may provide mothers with more job opportunities.

However, going through a divorce can be painful, and parents may struggle with the idea of giving up time with their children. If they can put aside these feelings and focus on what is best for their children, they may find that shared parenting is the best option. On the other hand, a parent might be concerned about a child's well-being because of issues such as domestic violence, and supervised or no visitation rights for the offender may be the right choice.

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