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Florida law gives more balanced parenting time in custody cases

Current Florida law recognizes the need for non-custodial parents to participate in their children's lives. According to statistics gathered by the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, a national interest group, non-custodial parents in Florida can receive up to 40 percent of the total parenting time.

Florida is among a small band of pioneering states that are increasingly equalizing child custody between divorced parents. Movements to even out parenting time often come under the heading of fathers' rights because in the past divorced fathers were usually declared the non-custodial parent and had their time with their children limited. But in principle equal parenting can operate to the benefit of either former spouse.

The shift towards shared parenting has been spurred on by a psychologist who conducted surveys of college students whose parents had divorced at some point in their lives. He asked what their preference was for parenting arrangements, and the responses were nearly unanimous: The students favored spending evenly divided time between their divorced parents. Other researchers have since confirmed the initial study.

The results shook the foundations of conventional wisdom on the subject. Family law courts and psychologists traditionally believed that it was best for a child to spend the most time with the mother and that it sufficed if the father appeared at intervals in the child's life. But modern research refutes that, showing that shared time provides benefits to children of divorced parents. Shared time promotes security in children, which in turn affects mental, behavioral and physical health.

Source: AZCentral.com, "Arizona dad fights for rights of divorced fathers," Alia Beard Rau, June 16, 2012.

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