Old-fashioned attitudes and entrenched beliefs among some people and judges in New York have traditionally favored awarding sole or primary physical custody of young children to one of their parents after a divorce. Research from psychologists and social workers that draws upon the experiences of adults who grew up with divorced parents reveals that co-parenting and shared custody provided children with the greatest stability as long as abuse and parental neglect had not been issues previously.
Interviews with people who grew up with shared custody arrangements indicated that they appreciated the chance to have relationships with both parents. Any hassles involved with moving regularly between two households were worth the effort. Research confirms this conclusion even among parents who do not get along. Sole custody arrangements actually maintained conflict at higher levels than joint custody. Having good relationships with both parents insulated children from their parents’ negative feelings toward each other.
The old argument that very young children need to be with their mothers did not hold up to scrutiny either. According to one psychologist, infants bond with both parents, and no evidence supported the delay of overnight stays with fathers.
When a parent chooses to pursue a divorce, an attorney could provide guidance about how to make decisions about custody, financial support and property division. Legal advice could help the client focus on meeting the best interests of the child when negotiating terms with the other parent. Once the parents come to terms about a custody schedule, an attorney could write the formal agreement for submission to the court. If no accord can be reached, then litigation might be necessary.
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