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Advocates pushing for changes in child custody laws

A growing number of states across the union have recently begun reconsidering child custody laws as the traditional family makeup is changing from two-parent households to a variety of types of families. The role parents take when it comes to child care also has changed dramatically over time. Advocates are pushing for changes in many states that would create equal custody for divorcing parents.

Some advocates oppose laws that award custody to one parent with some exceptions. Instead, they are pushing for shared-parenting laws that aim for equal amounts of time with both parents. Advocates for such laws say that children are better served under an equal-parent time setup. But opponents argue that the court should not be constrained and judges need the discretion to decide custody arrangements based on the best interest of the child. Advocates also argue that the laws reflect changing gender roles, because more men are caretakers as women have become more likely to work full time. They also point to polls showing that the majority of Americans support shared custody arrangements.

In Arizona, a new law affecting child custody was passed by lawmakers last year. The new law encourages joint parenting and requires that the court to adopt a plan to maximize both parents' time with the child and prevents the court from simply looking at the parent's gender in deciding custody preference. The changes move custody away from the traditional setup where mom automatically is named the custodial parent and dad gets visits every other weekend.

Child custody cases can still be acrimonious in Arizona as the parties involved in such situations work toward the goal of what is the best interest of the child. Divorcing parents should familiarize themselves with Arizona laws relevant to such topics in order to help them learn more about making the best decision for their children.

Source: USA Today, "Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome," Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 27, 2014

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