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Experts say parents should equally share parenting time

The image of the divorced child continues to persist in TV, movies and other forms of media -- weekdays with mom and weekends, or every other weekend, with dad, and sometimes even less. Historically this has been true, with mothers most often holding sole custody and fathers only given access to small periods of parenting time. Although family law in Oregon has already begun to shift toward shared parenting, experts on the matter are still pressing the issue to make sure that divorcing parents understand just how important both parents can be to a child's well-being.

While it is discussed less and less often, a sole custodian is featured in approximately 83 percent of new child custody agreements. This means that one parent is often more of a part-time or occasional parent with designated visitation days. Experts who quote this statistic from the U.S. Census Bureau even go so far as to indicate that the non-custodial parent becomes more of a visitor than an active and involved parent.

Evidence of the benefits of two, equally involved parents has long been mounting. Studies show that children raised by a single parent face an increased chance of becoming involved with illegal drugs or dropping out of school before reaching graduation. With sole custody continuing to be awarded at a rate much higher than shared or joint custody, many are now pushing for presidential candidates to weigh in on the matter, bringing the issue to the front stage.

The vast majority of children benefit the most from equal access to both parents. Child custody agreements should always be based off of a child's best interests. Oregon parents are usually more familiar with their child's personality and needs, making the mutual effort of establishing a parenting time agreement a more effective approach than automatically deferring the decision to a family law judge. However, in the event that a current custody plan is not adequately addressing a child's needs, either parent can petition the court to review the agreement and determine if changes are necessary.

Source: suffolknewsherald.com, "After divorce, shared parenting is important", Kristen Paasch, Jan. 8, 2016

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