When two parents decide that they no longer wish to parent their children under the same roof, they must generally file a child custody claim with their local court. An attorney experienced in matters of child support and parenting law can aid parents in determining how they would like to proceed with this claim. If parents fundamentally disagree about how their child custody arrangements should be constructed, the parents may need to litigate that claim. If the parents can generally agree on these matters and they are within the best interests of the children affected, the claim may be able to be mediated or otherwise negotiated without litigation.
Many parents wish to share parental responsibilities in the wake of their romantic split. Some parents have a mutual desire to co-parent and are able to work through their differences with relative ease. Others wish to co-parent despite the objections of their former romantic partners. These cases in particular can be tricky, because the courts must ultimately decide whether shared parenting is in the best interests of affected children, despite the objections of one or both parents.
For better and for worse, the approaches that courts will generally take on parenting disputes are governed by the laws enacted by the states in which those courts are located. For example, child custody disputes filed in Massachusetts will generally be decided in accordance with Massachusetts law, unless special circumstances dictate otherwise.
As a result, each set of parents affected by a custody dispute are affected by state laws which may differ in their approaches to shared parenting. Please check back in next week as we continue our discussion of this important topic.
Source: USA Today, "Report: States fail on shared parenting laws," Jonathan Ellis, Nov. 13, 2014