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Joint custody not always best for children after divorce

Many readers know that, historically, it has been easier for mothers to obtain custody of their children in divorce due to the presumption that it is usually in the best interests of children to be in the care of their mother, the primary caregiver. While states have moved away from this presumption, fathers have had a difficult time asserting their rights in the court system in custody cases.

Some states, in an effort to address the problem and responding to building research showing that joint custody is good for children of divorced couples, have established presumptions that joint custody is in the best interests of the children, unless it can be shown otherwise. At present, five states are considering proposals which to establish joint custody presumptions. 

Joint custody presumptions are heavily supported by groups advocating for fathers’ rights. The thinking is that fathers will have a better shot at a fair outcome. As a recent article points out, there may be certain drawbacks to establishing a joint custody presumption. For example, presuming that joint custody is best for children would make it easier to obtain these arrangements, even in cases where joint custody is simply not best for the children.

The reality is that while joint custody may be the ideal arrange after divorce, it isn’t always the best solution for children. In Washington, courts are mandated by states to consider certain factors before approving parenting plans. In our next post, we’ll look at some of these factors, and how an experienced attorney can help provide a parent with strong advocacy.