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Custody laws debated across the nation

30549586_S.jpgMissouri is still debating changes to the custody laws, with the potential for mandating "equal time" for fathers during a divorce. And Missouri is not alone. Legislatures in multiple states are considering changes to custody laws that make it easier for fathers to receive more time with their children.

One of the problems with this issues is to isolate just what is meant by some terms and other numbers in the debate. Advocates of these changes will argue that mothers receive custody 82.5 percent, which seemingly would support the argument that the law is unfair.

Except that most of the time, mothers are awarded custody because the fathers do not request it. When they do, they receive shared custody 70 percent of the time. And these are only in cases where custody is contested because the parents cannot come to an agreement. This is the only time a judge is required to make a custody determination.

The other problem is that many numbers that are tossed around are difficult to verify as being meaningful. The pool of children in custody is constantly changing, as older children become adults and new children are added. It also matters whether you are speaking about contested cases or all divorces, as that could change the apparent disparity dramatically.

Fathers have become much more involved in raising their children and according to one analysis, have doubled the amount of time they spend with their children. But every divorce is different and every custody decision has its own unique twists.

You know your situation and the best results are obtained when you and your spouse agree to a parenting plan that will work for your children.

Source: stateline.org, "More Time for Dads? States Weigh Changes to Custody Laws," Jen Fifield, March 15, 2016

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