For years, courts have determined which parent is fit to be the primary caregiver for a child after a divorce if the parents are unable to decide amongst themselves. Now, a number of states, including Massachusetts, are pushing for shared child custody after divorce. A number of arguments have been made both for and against this growing practice.
In the past, when divorcing couples were unable to come to a custody agreement, the courts would often award custody to the mother. This may have been due to old biases which assert that women are natural and more capable caregivers. A number of groups supporting the rights of fathers have stated that many men feel as though they are only visitors in their children’s lives and that others occasionally have trouble keeping up with their child support obligations. Other groups who support the rights of mothers argue that the system is set up the way it is to best benefit and protect the children. Many are also concerned that the push for shared custody may eliminate child support for those families who depend on it.
A variety of research has also been done in order to determine how children are affected by the influence of one or both parents. One professor at Wake Forest University claims that there is no evidence to support the claim that a woman is more capable of raising a child than a man, but that children can benefit greatly from being raised under the influence of both parents. Research has shown that children who have active relationships with their fathers, as well as their mothers, have higher self-esteem and better grades.
More and more divorced couples are choosing to share child custody in an effort to best provide for their children. Many parents have discovered that they can also benefit from sharing custody with their former spouses. Sharing custody can allow former spouses the time to return to school, change career paths or invest in new relationships. Divorcing couples in Massachusetts who wish to discuss their child custody options could benefit from speaking with local attorneys.