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Proposed laws may make parenting time more equitable

Research has long shown the negative effects of divorce on children in New Jersey and across the country. However, recent studies have found that children of divorced parents who spend a considerable amount of time in both homes are less impacted by their parents' divorce. In light of the new research, many state legislatures have been revisiting the family court rules regarding custody and parenting time.

Even though assets and debts are ostensibly divided equitably by the court when a couple gets divorced, mothers are disproportionately given primary custody of the minor children. A study in Nebraska of child custody cases between the years of 2002 and 2012 found that nearly three-quarters of divorced fathers only saw their children an average of 5.5 days per month. Census data shows that more than 80 percent of custodial parents are mothers.

Instead of the standard visiting schedule of two weekends every month with the noncustodial parent, some of the laws under consideration would give both parents equal parenting rights. A new law in Utah increases the number of overnight visits children have with their noncustodial parent from 80 to 145 per year. This could result in noncustodial parents having the opportunity to make a significant impact on their children's lives and also a lot less stress for the children.

While legislation has been proposed across the country to change the way family courts award parenting time, a noncustodial father who wants a shared parenting arrangement might benefit from the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. An attorney might negotiate with the other spouse to come to an agreement that works for both parents and is in the best interest of the children.

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