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Reform in child custody laws happening in many states

Texas parents who are divorcing must also make decisions about child custody. In many states, laws are being changed to encourage more joint custody solutions. Some studies have shown that children benefit from these types of arrangements. The trend may also be partly due to increased awareness of parental alienation syndrome.

Not everyone is in favor of the shift. Some bar associations and feminist organizations have opposed it, but Missouri, Arizona, South Dakota, Minnesota and Utah have all passed laws revamping their child custody laws. More than a dozen other states are also considering such laws.

In Arizona, parents are encouraged to share responsibility as well as custody and visitation time. Missouri has traditionally favored mothers and a stable home over allowing equal access to fathers, but its law has now been rewritten so that a judge is no longer supposed to consider the child's age or the parent's gender in making a decision about custody.

Having a judge make the decisions on custody and visitation is not always necessary when parents divorce. Parents may be able to come to an agreement with the help of their respective attorneys through negotiation or mediation. A judge makes decisions based on a child's best interests, but parents may be in the best position to judge their individual situation and what may work best for their family. Parents can also write parenting plans that cover any concerns they have about co-parenting. The parenting plan might include a plan for conflict resolution such as using mediation. Parents can also go to court to get a modification in some cases.

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