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The rise in shared parenting

Georgia fathers may be at a disadvantage in getting custody of their children in a divorce. In more than 80 percent of cases around the country, mothers get physical custody. However, fathers may want to push for shared parenting. This is an arrangement in which the child spends approximately the same amount of time with each parent, and it is growing in popularity.

The increase in shared parenting is bolstered by research showing that children benefit from these arrangements. It tends to lower children's stress and give them a sense of security. Several states have passed laws that encourage shared parenting, and in Sweden and Australia, it has become commonplace.

According to surveys and to a vote in Massachusetts, the public increasingly agrees as well that in the absence of issues like domestic violence, shared parenting should be the norm in a divorce. Furthermore, children of single parents have higher rates of suicide, homelessness and drug abuse. They have more behavioral disorders and may be more likely to drop out of high school. A shared parenting agreement also prevents a long and expensive custody battle, and the lower-conflict atmosphere is better for children.

Ideally, parents can negotiate a shared parenting agreement that works for them. However, in a case in which a father must fight for shared or even primary custody, there are strategies that may help in showing the father's involvement in the child's life. For example, a father should try to attend as many of the child's extracurricular activities as possible and take the child to medical appointments or attend school meetings. A judge will make a custody decision that is in the best interests of the child, and demonstrating the strength of the father-child bond can be important.

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