There are many things to consider during a divorce, but for Colorado parents, none are quite as serious as child custody. Parents typically want custody arrangements that will be in their children’s best interests, but most are also understandably concerned about losing time, and consequently a relationship, with their child.

In the past, “winners” and “losers” have plagued custody matters, where one parent wins physical custody with the other relegated to visitation. In modern divorces it is not “custody” which is typically determined, but rather the allocation of parental responsibilities, which generally include parenting time and child support.  While one parent having full custody might still be appropriate for certain family situations, emerging research indicates there are better options for most divorcing parents and their children

The science is in, 50/50 might be best

Because of the potential for exposing children to more conflict from separated parents, many experts in the past typically warned against 50/50 custody arrangements. However, one psychology professor was not so sure that this approach was correct and set out to discover how custody arrangements impact children of divorce.

Her study examined several different factors from over 40 past studies, focusing on four main questions about the effect of conflict on children. Her conclusion? Children in joint, 50/50 custody plans fared better than their peers.

Conflict may not be as damaging as previously thought

The researcher pointed out married parents routinely expose their children to regular levels of conflict, which does not appear to have any long-lasting negative effects. While there might be elevated levels of conflict during and in the years following a divorce, that conflict typically subsides. Custody arrangements, however, rarely change.

The takeaway found that children ultimately benefit from having equal access to both parents. Divorce is difficult for children as well as for adults, and maintaining relationships can have a profoundly positive impact. Children whose parents share 50/50 custody typically perform better in school, use drugs less often and tend to have more optimistic outlooks.

Parenting plans should reflect what is best for your family.

No two families are alike, and what works for one situation might not apply to yours. Each child in Colorado has his or her own special needs and parental relationships to consider. While many families might benefit greatly from 50/50 custody arrangements, some might function better with one parent being the primary residential parent.

Parents can often reach an agreeable custody arrangement through mediation, which both parties, their respective attorneys and a third-party mediator attend. When parents are unable to create a plan during mediation, it is important to have an experienced representative on your side who can guide you through the domestc relations court process.

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