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Should children decide when to see a non-custodial parent after divorce?

20579567_S.jpgWhat is the best outcome for children after a divorce? For at least a half-century, this question has been debated. In earlier years, many assumed children were better off being raised by their mothers, especially if they were very young. Good or bad, this model continues to this day. Still, it is now more common for fathers to receive full custody than in the past.

More and more, courts are trying to allow both parents to be involved in their children's lives after divorce. Can this work? Should we be letting the children decide when and how often they want to see each parent?

According to William V. Fabricius and Jeffrey Hall in their 2000 paper, children of divorce want and need "open access to both parents." These two researchers found, "Children repeatedly insisted that being able to see the noncustodial parents whenever they wished and being able to see that parent often made their parents' divorces tolerable for them. It didn't matter which parent was custodial; the children wanted to divide their time between their parents."

The possibility and practicality of allowing kids to see parents whenever they want is not always there. Parenting plans must work for every member of the family. In some case, including those of child abuse, domestic violence and drug/alcohol addiction, one parent should not have such open custody rights.

Still, some families are able to allow children to contact both parents when they desire. The freedoms of living situations such as this are increasingly beneficial and practical as young children become teenagers.

No two families are alike. Each family needs a child custody arrangement in place that works best for the parents and children. To make sure the arrangement will work for the whole family; seek help of an experienced family law attorney.

Source: Deseret News, "Children of divorce want 'open access' to both mom and dad, studies show", Lois M. Collins, Oct. 9, 2014

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