While mothers still tend to get custody of their children in over 80 percent of divorce court rulings, Illinois parents who are ending their marriage could consider another alternative. Research increasingly supports the idea that shared parenting is better for children, and it is the norm in some countries such as Sweden. Some states have passed laws that encourage this kind of joint custody while others are considering doing so.
A shared parenting arrangement allows both parents to be more equal. This means that a mother can have more opportunity in the workplace since she does not have to be the main caregiver while a father has the opportunity to be more to a child than simply the breadwinner. Children benefit from the opportunity to build strong relationships with both parents.
Studies demonstrating the positive effects of shared parenting were presented at the 2017 International Conference on Shared Parenting in Boston. Another study published by the American Psychological Association found that there were benefits to shared parenting even for very young children.
Parents may want to keep these studies in mind as they negotiate child custody during a divorce. Shared parenting may also allow for flexible arrangements that can help children. For example, some parents may keep the family home for a few years and allow the children to remain there while they take turns living there. However, this is not possible for many couples, and joint custody has been shown to be beneficial despite the potential disruption for children of moving between their parents’ homes. An effective parenting agreement may be particularly important in a joint custody situation to help parents raise their children consistently and address any concerns or confusion over issues such as vacations. An attorney can often assist in drawing one up.