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Rhode Island courts often don't support shared parenting

People can be very protective of their children and of their time with their children. In today's busy society people may have less and less free time to be with their kids. In the case of divorce, child custody decisions must be made that can further separate a parent and child. This often causes conflicts in these cases as parents fight for more time.

In a child custody case, if a couple cannot come to an agreement on child custody issues, then the court will make the determination. Generally the court will award custody to one of the parents and visitation to the other. The parent that is awarded only visitation will often see the child much less than the parent with primary custody.

A movement -- the shared parenting movement -- is sweeping the United States to try and change this. The movement wants to change laws to make the default custody arrangement in cases of divorce a more even split. Ideally, supporters believe custody should be shared equally between parents unless abuse or other similar circumstances are present.

In response to this movement, a national organization undertook a study of the states' custody laws and ranked them. The study looked at how supportive the states were toward shared parenting. While no state received an "A" from the study, two states, including Rhode Island, received a failing grade. In states with poor grades judges tend to rely on old research and stereotypes when awarding child custody.

Parents in Rhode Island should be aware of these facts when they are in the midst of a child custody disputes. To avoid losing time with their children, people may want to mediate with their former spouse and create their own agreement.

Source: USA Today, "Report: States fail on shared parenting laws," Jonathan Ellis, Nov. 13, 2014

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