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Expert Suggests Equal Shared Custody May Not Be Ideal

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Child Custody

Shared Custody, Custody Orders, Illinois Child Custody, Arlington Heights family law attorneyFrom the time children are very young, they begin to learn about the concept of fairness. They are taught to wait their turn, share their toys, and to be generally respectful of other people’s property and time. Consequently, children grow into adults who equate fairness with equality, a concept which may hold true for many aspects of life. When establishing a shared custody arrangement after divorce, however, at least one parenting expert suggests that equal time may not actually prove fair to the child.

Noted author and family psychologist John Rosemond addresses the issue of shared custody in his nationally syndicated newspaper column this week. "Domestic court judges," he writes, "often regard two divorcing parent who are equally responsible as deserving of equal time with their kids." A ruling based on that idea would seem equitable and fair to both parents. While Rosemond does not dispute such an order would appear fair to the parents, he raises the concern that fairness to the parents should not necessarily be the goal. He contends that the needs and best interests of the child should take precedence over whether or not a custody order seems fair to both parents.

Rosemond’s reasoning is based on the idea that children fare best after a divorce when their lives are disrupted as little as possible. Many equal shared custody rulings require a child to transition between parents’ homes every few days, which, to most children, is at least somewhat disruptive. In addition to an inevitable adjustment period after each transition, such arrangements are often wrought with inconsistencies between homes, especially regarding rules, responsibilities, or expectations. In some cases, the lack of consistency can cause confusion and stress for the child, while in others, the child may learn to work both parents against each other and manipulate the situation to his or her perceived advantage.

Many parents with shared custody arrangements are able to make them work rather well, Rosemond acknowledges, but only with concerted effort and an emphasis on communication. Successful coparenting is entirely dependent on the cooperation of both parents and their willingness to put the needs of their child ahead of their own. Unfortunately, post-divorce situations in which parents continue to battle over and through their children seem to be much more prevalent. Rosemond suggests, therefore, that a more traditional approach to child custody may be more appropriate. One parent maintaining primary custody with the other parent getting the kids every other weekend or so represents the type of arrangement he believes offers many children of divorced parents the most stability.

Every post-divorce situation is unique and one general opinion in a newspaper column should not dictate your family’s decision. If you live in Illinois and are involved in a child custody negotiation, you deserved qualified assistance not only from family or parenting experts but from a legal perspective as well. Contact an experienced Arlington Heights family law attorney at A. Traub & Associates today. We will review your case and help you decide the best course of action for you and your children.

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