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Legislation on shared child custody passes state Senate

One southern state is considering legislation that could change the way that child custody cases are handled in family courts. The proposed bill would direct judges to begin all child custody matters with the presumption that equally shared custody, or a 50/50 split, is the best outcome for a child. The issue has raised a great deal of debate in Texas and elsewhere, as the nation continues to ponder the division of parenting time that best serves the needs of children.

The bill was approved by the state Senate, and will now head to the House. Those who support the change feel that beginning from a point of 50/50 custody will give fathers (who are often given less time with their kids) a fair chance at maintaining a relationship with their children. They point to research that asserts that kids need the active involvement of both parents to thrive.

Those who oppose the change argue that each case is unique and that judges should be allowed to weigh the merits of each bid for custody without having to begin from a position of equally shared parenting time. They point out that there are numerous instances in which one parent is better equipped to address a child's needs, such as parents of developmentally disabled children. An argument can also be made that a change in the law would likely lead to many mothers being dragged back into court and forced to hire an attorney to revisit their custody determinations.

As the issue advances through the legislative process, many parents in Texas and elsewhere will continue to follow the matter. A change in child custody law in one state can impact similar changes in other states and can also have an impact on how such cases are determined at the level of the Supreme Court. Shared custody is becoming more accepted as the standard, but there is still a great deal of debate to come on the issue.

Source: palmbeachpost.com, "Child custody changes sweep through Florida Senate, amid fears it will hurt families", John Kennedy, Feb. 23, 2016

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