For decades, the standard child custody agreement for the majority of divorced couples was that the mother would have primary custody and the father would have a visitation schedule. Typically, that schedule would be every other weekend and one night a week. However, today’s families are different than past generations, with social norms evolving into more child-rearing involvement by fathers. This has led to ever-evolving custody arrangements, with shared custody becoming one of the most common.
In a shared custody arrangement, children are with both parents equally, as a family law attorney in Fairfax, VA from a law firm like May Law, LLP, can explain. They spend so many days at Mom’s house and then the same number of days at Dad’s. This allows both parents an equal share of parenting time and equal say in how the child is raised. If you are in the midst of a divorce and working out how child custody will be divided, there are some things you should consider if you are thinking about a shared custody arrangement.
The Best Interest of the Child
No matter what type of custody agreement is finally approved by the court, every child custody case must meet the best interest of the child standard. Studies have shown that when children spend at least 35 percent of their time with each of their parents, they do much better emotionally, socially, and in academics than children who only see one parent on a limited basis. Children whose parents have shared custody do better psychologically and are less likely to have mental issues or abuse alcohol or other substances.
The best way for parents to build solid relationships with their children is to spend time with them and shared custody allows this to happen. Being part of your child’s daily life can help bring about that closeness as opposed to only having a small window of time every two weeks to do that. Having this close relationship with both parents has also been shown to be a key factor in a child’s success as an adult.
Factors that May Limit Shared Custody
Not every custody case qualifies for a shared custody arrangement. There are certain standards both parents must meet before a judge will approve shared custody. One of the most critical elements that must be met is the safety of the child and if there is any indication that one of the parents may not meet that standard, they will not be awarded shared custody.
Issues that fall under this category include:
- Whether the parent has a history of alcohol or drug abuse
- Whether the parent has a history of abuse or neglect
- Whether the parent has a history of violence
- Whether the parent is involved in criminal activity
- Whether the parent lives in unsafe living conditions for the child
Contact a Child Custody Attorney for More Details
If you are considering a shared custody arrangement in your divorce, contact a family law attorney in Virginia to meet with a child custody expert and discuss what your legal options may be.