Friday, March 7, 2014

More Single Dads? What Does the Other Side Think?

As a follow up to the previous post on a possible presumption of shared custody, I thought I would also outline the other side of the argument. A shared custody schedule works well for children of parents who reside in close proximity and are able to work together well for the child’s benefit.

For many children, equal custodial arrangements for the parents can be difficult. Some children feel overburdened by the alternating home life and a shared custody schedule and frequent exchanges can cause increased parental conflict that has a negative effect on the child. In addition, some children feel insecure and anxious due to alternating homes. If the parents can work together to apply similar rules, schedules, and structure in their respective homes, the child will feel less stress.

Some argue that a shared custodial schedule is simply to benefit the emotional needs of the parent rather than the child. In 1979, California adopted a presumption for joint custody but later amended the law to allow joint custody only when the parents agreed to it. 

Whatever the trend, both sides of the argument should be balanced by what is in the best interest of the child. In Washington, we do not have a joint custody presumption; however, there is certainly a trend toward joint custody.  In addition, the court will review other factors such as a history of domestic violence by either parent, drug or alcohol abuse by either parent, child abuse, or even seemingly innocuous “issues” such as distance between the parents’ households.  

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Rachel Luke is a attorney in the Bellevue office of Wong Fleming. Ms. Luke practices family law and represents clients on divorces, custody issues, parenting plans, child support, and more. 

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