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Law Offices of Hannah E. Sims, LL.M.
Oakland Certified Family Law Specialist

Navigating shared parenting in child custody cases

When California parents of young children go through a divorce, the primary concern is often how to handle child custody. There are many commonly held perceptions about shared parenting and its effect on children that can undermine positive efforts to achieve a workable custody schedule. While decisions about custody are generally framed as being in the best interests of the child, the phrase can be vague and unclear.

Evidence indicates that children who experience the best outcomes are those who have a shared parenting schedule, in which both parents share child custody, including physical presence and legal decision-making. The strong research backing up shared parenting, however, has done little to reassure a number of skeptical parents. In some cases, people believe that children feel insecure or unstable when they move back and forth from one parent's home to another, and being with one parent only is a more stable environment. However, studies show that kids reap far stronger rewards from their closeness with both parents.

Others believe that shared parenting can be best for older children but that it is inappropriate for babies, who need to be close to their mothers at all times. On the contrary, babies can benefit from early bonding through shared parenting at both parents' homes. Of course, breastfeeding can complicate a shared parenting schedule, but babies, like older kids, also reap the rewards of shared child custody.

In general, parents want the best outcomes for their children, and physical custody issues are often the most pressing matters. Whether parents are dealing with a high level of conflict or an amicable split, working with a family law attorney can help to set up a fair custody schedule that allows the children to flourish.

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