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Proposed child custody guidelines snub shared parenting advocates

In a divorce that involves children, there is always the question of how to handle custody. In the state of Georgia, a child that is at least 11 years old can tell the presiding judge his or her preferred custodial parent, although this does not mean that child custody is automatically awarded to the chosen parent. The judges are still the ones who decide on the matter. Guidelines regarding child custody are important to enable every court in the state to make uniform decisions in similar divorce cases.

The lack of uniformity in custody determination is one of the problems facing courts in South Dakota today, prompting them to come up with a law stating the guidelines for child custody. Once this legislation is approved, this will certainly change the way that child custody is enforced.

However, advocates of shared parenting in the state lament the fact that this new law will not grant equal custody to both parents. According to these advocates, maximizing the time that both parents spend with their children has beneficial effects for the children, such as getting better grades in school and lowering chances of juvenile imprisonment and teenage pregnancy.

On the other hand, those who oppose implementing a shared-parenting law emphasize that joint or equal custody will not serve the best interests of the child. For instance, mothers and children who were victims of domestic abuse will not benefit from co-parenting. In addition, the equal split of parenting time may brew more conflict between the parents as they battle for the child's time and attention.

While South Dakota works out revisions to its child custody guidelines, many lawyers in Georgia understand that child custody should be decided based on the best interests of the children involved. Today, Georgia law focuses heavily on equal and shared parenting time. Oftentimes, the custody and visitation arrangements are close to a 50-50 split to give both parents a chance to raise their children. If that is not right for your situation, however, there are other options.

Source:, "South Dakota lawyers back child custody guidelines," Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 16, 2014

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