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Should joint physical custody arrangements be favored?

Some argue that, historically, judges haven't been putting enough weight on the value of shared parenting when making decisions in child custody cases. People who hold this position argue that having contact with both parents can be very beneficial for a child and that more should be done to encourage joint physical custody arrangements. These arguments have led to some states putting laws in place aimed at getting judges to give greater preference to joint custody arrangements in child custody cases.

Currently, a proposed law aimed at promoting shared parenting is being considered in another state, South Dakota. The law would encourage judges to look to joint physical custody arrangements in divorce cases. It is important to note that the law would not create any legal presumptions for judges.

The proposed law went before the South Dakota Senate and it was passed unanimously. The South Dakota House will now consider the bill. It will be interesting to see what happens with the bill as it moves forward.

The rules and guidelines that a state has in place regarding the factors judges are to consider when making child custody decisions are incredibly impactful things. Given this, there are many important questions to look into when considering making changes to such rules and guidelines, including:

  • Would the changes be fair?
  • Would the changes be beneficial to children?
  • What overall effects would the changes have on child custody cases?

What thoughts do our New York readers have on laws aimed at encouraging judges to give greater preference to shared parenting in child custody decisions? Are such laws a good or a bad idea?

Sources: The Republic, "South Dakota Senate unanimously passes shared parenting bill," Feb. 5, 2014

The Argus Leader, "South Dakota Legislature: Judging shared parenting," Feb. 4, 2014

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