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Shared physical custody is gaining popularity

There has been an emerging trend toward shared child custody arrangements for divorced parents. Historically, North Carolina family courts would most often award primary physical custody to the mother, with the father being given visitation rights on weekends or pursuant to another schedule. This is slowly changing.

Many studies have shown that shared parenting is in the best interests of the child. One that appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health covered 150,000 children, and the researchers came to the conclusion that children who spend roughly an equal amount of time with both parents after a divorce have less stress than those who live primarily with one. A group of family law professionals in the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts came to a similar conclusion, and they stated that the best interests of children are well served by shared parenting relationships.

Several state legislatures have considered adopting laws that would make shared physical custody the default arrangement when divorce courts are ruling on the matter, and some states such as Arizona and Wisconsin have enacted them. Many countries already have this as a norm, including Australia and Sweden.

Even though courts still give the mother primary physical custody most of the time, when fathers want to assert their rights and ask for equal time, many judges will take their requests into account. Of course, shared custody is probably not a good idea when one of the parents has a substance abuse problem or a history of domestic violence. But when these are not a factor, a family law attorney could assist a father in seeking a liberal amount of parenting time.

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