Should equal parenting time agreements be more common?

A recent study suggests that the general public widely supports granting joint custody when parents divorce. Currently, when parents in Texas (and other states) divorce, child custody is rarely split 50-50 between the couple. However, the new study found that the public believes it should be more common.

Researchers at Arizona State University analyzed polls and ballot initiatives across the country, and they also conducted their own survey. They found that most people believe parents should equally split child custody arrangements.

The survey took an innovative approach. Researchers asked participants to pretend to judge three hypothetical situations. The only difference between the scenarios was which parent provided the primary child care while the couple was married. These are the scenarios:

  1. The mother provided 75 percent of the child care duties before the divorce.
  2. The father provided 75 percent of the child care duties before the divorce.
  3. Mother and father split the child care duties equally before the divorce.

Surprisingly, the survey participants overwhelmingly chose to give the parents split child custody in every scenario. Although they were not asked to consider the specifics, the participants said that the child should spend an equal amount of time with each parent.

Although the research suggests that the public would prefer to see more custody arrangements grant equal time to mothers and fathers, it is important to remember that every family’s situation is unique. There are myriad factors that go into determining child custody in real cases. It may be possible that families should have equally shared child custody more often; however, it is critical that each family’s custody arrangement be determined based on their unique circumstances.

Source: Psych Central, “Public Support Rising for Joint Custody,” Rick Nauert, 3 May 2011