The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a new Missouri law is encouraging judges across the state to grant both parents equal time with the children following divorce. This action follows efforts that have been made by both fathers and activists who have been lobbying to fight a common problem shared among divorced fathers where, despite the declaration of equal custody, they only see their kids every other weekend and one night during the work week.
Under the new law, guidelines are being drawn by the Missouri court administrator in order to apply the “maximize to the highest degree the amount of time the child may spend with each parent.”
A representative for M. Sue Wilson Law Offices of Minnesota supports the law. She said, “Unfortunately, fathers are often granted disproportionately less time with their children by the courts, even if they prove to be a stunning example of what a father should be. But the tides are starting to turn, and we’re seeing more states establishing new laws that give dads the time they deserve with their children.”
While the benefits of this type of arrangement are obvious, some judges are voicing concern about the fact that the arrangement of each parent alternating weeks with the child can be disruptive when they live in different school districts. Judges have long been accustomed to the determination of a primary residence and caregiver, and experts predict it may be difficult to change that mindset.
There are still unique circumstances to consider such as abusive ex-spouses using the new law to maintain power even after the marriage is dissolved. These situations are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Proponents of the law feel that, in the long-run, equal parenting time can offer numerous benefits to families going through a difficult life transition.