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For child custody, experts agree both parents should be involved

The data is in and experts agree -- shared parenting is usually in the best interest of all children. Child custody issues are usually at the heart of parents' divorces, and rightly so, as the hope is often to minimize the impact of the process on children. Despite this focus on a child's best interest, sole custody is still present in a significantly high number of custody agreements in North Carolina, effectively cutting off regular access to the other parent.

Just how important is equal access to both parents? According to multiple agencies, including the American Psychological Association, children who are able to regularly speak to and spend roughly equal time with both parents thrive much better than peers who do not. Indeed, children raised solely by one parent face a much higher risk of dropping out of high school or becoming involved in illegal activities.

Despite the years of data from many different experts on the subject, shared parenting is included in somewhere around just 17 percent or less of all custody agreements. Experts point out that custody agreements with a focus on sole custody ultimately relegate the non-custodial parent to being little more than a visitor. This puts unnecessary burden on both the child as well as the custodial parent who must shoulder the brunt of the parenting by him or herself.

Mothers have largely been the recipients of sole custody, although some fathers do occasionally receive custody of their children after a divorce. No matter which parent is the sole custodian, this arrangement is usually not in the child's best interests, and many experts are making it a point to push for fairer family law guidelines that will shift the focus to shared parenting. Until such a time, parents in North Carolina who feel as though their custody agreement is no longer beneficial to their child are well within their rights to return to court in an effort to have the child custody agreement changed. When presented with valid evidence of the need for change, most family law judges will reconsider the shifting needs of the child.

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

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