Joint legal custody has become significantly more common in the United States. In fact, many family court systems operate with a presumption of joint legal custody, which means that parents are expected to share equally in decisions regarding their children’s schooling, health care and day-to-day living. However, mothers are still more likely to get physical custody of their children, which means that the kids live with mom most of the time.
Many of these changes are the result of shifts in attitudes about parenting and divorce. No-fault divorce laws were instituted in the late 20th century so that spouses no longer had to prove serious misconduct on the part of the other spouse if they wished to leave a marriage.
In many cases, women began to initiate divorces and would often be granted custody of the children. Fathers, for their part, wanted to maintain strong relationships with their kids and began to work for reform in the court system so that shared custody arrangements would become more common.
A soon-to-be ex-spouse worried about child custody and support may benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney. The lawyer may be able to review the client’s circumstances and make recommendations regarding all aspects of divorce, including support, visitation and custody issues. When appropriate, legal counsel could assist in negotiating a parenting plan that takes the best interests of the child into consideration.