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How is shared parenting different from joint custody?

Shared parenting is gaining popularity in several states, including here in Texas. While some believe that this manner of parenting after a divorce is in the best interests of the children in most cases, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that shared parenting agreements are reached in only 17 percent of all child custody cases nationwide. This form of parenting is different from joint custody in which parents can have joint legal custody to give both parents the rights to make legal decisions related to the child, or joined physical custody in which a 50/50 schedule must be drafted for parenting – or both.

Shared parenting is a less formal arrangement in which parents work out a parenting schedule that does not necessarily have to be 50/50. One of the supporters of shared parenting, the National Parents Organization, believes that effective parenting after divorce must be as flexible as it is in a marriage. The fact that there are now two separate households may even require more flexibility, as long as one parent does not have less than 30 percent parenting time.

However, critics say a legal presumption of shared parenting may put children in danger of abuse or neglect. They believe that judges must remain the party responsible for deciding what is in the best interests of the child. Supporters argue that individuals in contentious divorces, where there is little chance of parents agreeing to remain part of a relationship in which continued communication is vital, will not seek shared parenting in the first place.

This is achievable, as was reported by a former couple who is in the seventh year of successful shared parenting of their two children who are now teenagers. Although going through a divorce is stressful and many issues need to be resolved, each spouse is entitled to utilize the support and guidance of an experienced Texas family law attorney. Divorce attorneys typically have access to additional resources, such as mediators, to assist with negotiations, regardless of whether the client seeks joint custody, shared parenting or sole custody.

Source: deseretnews.com, "What 'shared parenting' is and how it can affect kids after divorce", Lois M. Collins, Feb. 5, 2016

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