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Do mothers and fathers always get equal child custody time?

Summer is here and many California families are enjoying the chance to take vacations. With children out of school some moms and dads are reducing their hours at work in order to spend valuable time with their kids. However, not all families are able to be together all of the time. Families that have gone through divorce may be splitting their time between the households of the two previously married parents.

When and where a child spends his time is often dependent upon a court decision that outlines the family's child custody determination. Often those determinations try to account for the best interests of the child and recognize what arrangements will present the least disruption to his life. This can sometimes mean the child spends the majority of his time with one parent instead of the other.

Traditional custody arrangements of decades past have seemingly put a preference on placing physical custody with the mother. Historically fathers have made the money for their families and as such are required to spend time at work in order to keep up their pay. This left the mothers as the primary caregivers and the parents more available to spend extensive time with children.

As history progresses the picture of the American family is also changing. More kids are living in single family homes, living with grandparents or other relations, or living in households with same-sex parents. Traditional views of child custody are also varying as families diversify.

Several studies have found that as families change, so too should child custody determinations. More courts are opting for more balanced approaches to child custody and placing a higher value on the time a father has to spend with is kids that in the past. Some research suggests that children benefit from time with both parents over exclusive time with just one.

Parents engaged in custody disputes may find that their matters are handled with a more balanced approach than was used in the past. Rather than only getting visitation rights, fathers and working mothers may have more opportunities to have physical custody of their kids. Lawyers who practice family law can help guide their clients through the changing world of child custody.

Source: The Clarion-Ledger, "More dads demand equal custody rights," Sharon Jayson, June 14, 2014

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