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Child custody laws shifting toward equal parenting time

Parents in Alaska who are faced with child custody issues as part of their divorce could take cues from the rising interest in equal parenting time throughout the country. Several states have proposed legislation meant to promote custody agreements that allow children of divorced and separated couples to have more balanced access to both parents.

Pushed on by parenting rights groups, like the National Parents Organization, and mounting research that children experience less stress if parents share custody more equitably, these proposed laws would raise the minimum amount of time that noncustodial parents receive with their children. For example, one such bill would require judges to consider the benefits children reap from having a relationship with both parents. Another proposal increases the number of required overnight stays with a noncustodial parent from 80 nights a year to 145.

Father's rights advocates have been promoting their agenda because custodial arrangements overwhelmingly skew toward mothers. In fact, 83 percent of custodial parents are mothers, according to census data. Researchers who study the effects of divorce on children consistently find that children who split their time between both parental households cope better than those who spend the bulk of their time with only one parent.

A person who desires a more equal custody agreement could cite the divorce research about children during negotiations. The support of an attorney during this process might also be helpful. Attorneys in both sides of a divorce often serve as emotional buffers between parties. An attorney could advocate in court for a client's parental rights and by making it clear that a cultural shift toward shared parenting is emerging.

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