Shared parenting is becoming more strongly encouraged across the country, including in California, although there is skepticism about the concept in some states. As of September 2016, one more state has passed a shared parenting statute into legislation.
The new Missouri reform law highly recommends an equitable approach to visitation and child custody. It follows Arizona, Minnesota, South Dakota and Utah in enacting their own child custody reform laws. The details of each shared parenting statute differ slightly, but they all focus on the best interest of the child to maintain relationships with both parents after separation and divorce. As of 2015, 20 states had pending reform laws.
The Missouri reform law is more relaxed from the 2010 policy that Arizona passed, which is regarded as a success worth copying. In addition to focusing on visitation and child custody, the Arizona statute advocates parenting time in which each parent shares equal responsibility for child rearing regardless of how much time they spend with the child.
The success of the Arizona reform is one reason other states are supporting shared parenting laws. Another reason may be because of an increase in parental alienation. Additionally, many studies show that having meaningful involvement and spending equal time with both parents is beneficial for the well-being of a child.
Shared parenting reform statutes are also making custody battles more fair for fathers. Many courts previously assumed that children are better off remaining with their mothers and considered that reliable physical dwellings are more important than spending time with each parent. The new law prevents judges from making child custody decisions based on the age of a child or the gender of a parent.
Laws and guidelines regarding visitation and child custody can change at any time. This is why many divorcing parents seek the assistance of legal counsel. Family law attorneys may help them fully understand changes in statutes as well as build custody cases in their favor.