It’s no surprise that divorce can be especially hard for the children involved. A new study has confirmed what many had always believed, children will feel less stress when the two parents are able to share custody.
According to the National Parents Organization, many states are pushing for reforms of current child custody laws.
“Those states considering reform to custody legislation could provide children what they most want and need – equal time with both parents in instances of divorce or separation,” says family lawyer, Ted Khalaf.
The NPO’s advocacy of this study was released close to the father’s day holiday to bring attention to the gender equality issue that is present in family courts. The majority of custody cases leave fathers without custody and rule in favor of the mother.
In fact, back in April the Wall Street Journal wrote about this important issue. They report that around 20 states are contemplating changes in the law that determine which parent ends up with custody of a child, partly due to the many fathers who have voiced their concern about the process and believe they always get the short end of the stick.
Some experts would argue that children from divorced families, as opposed to nuclear families, can be connected to psychosomatic problems. In fact, the results of the study specifically say this:
“Children with non-cohabitant parents experience more psychosomatic problems than those in nuclear families. Those in joint physical custody do however report better psychosomatic health than children living mostly or only with one parent. Longitudinal studies with information on family factors before and after the separation are needed to inform policy of children’s post-separation living arrangements.”
These children are more prone to emotional problems and social maladjustment than their counterparts from two-family homes. The rising numbers of children in these situations has sparked an interest in custody reform.
The NPO spoke out in a recent interview saying involved fathers need more. They don’t want to be out of the picture when they separate from the mother. They want to be part of the child’s life. Research shows that the children also want that and that they benefit when both parents are involved with their life and upbringing.
Besides the study’s findings, it seems that public opinion says the same thing.
“The majority of the public believe that child custody and support legislation is unfair and one-sided,” Khalef explains. “New legislation would make the process more unbiased.”
For example, some judges rule on child support hearings without even taking parental incomes into consideration. A child could be put into the care of a parent who cannot handle the responsibility of a single-parent household. To further solidify this argument, it’s important to note that a judge may look at the income of a mother with full custody. He would then decide how much child support she should receive. As her income goes up or down, the amount of support changes. However, no one is putting the father’s income into the equation.
As time changes and women become more equally able to earn a living to support a family, the law continues to lag behind the progress. The courts are used to awarding custody to the parent that can spend more time at home and work less. The other parent, usually the father, is then ordered to pay a large amount of alimony or child support. This model must stop.
Single parenting has an incredible impact on a child, more than the legal system seems to realize. In fact, the National Parent Organization released some pretty startling statistics. “The 35 percent of children raised by single parents account for 63 percent of teen suicides, 71 percent of high school dropouts and 90 percent of homeless and runaway children, among other things.” A change in legislation is the only way to help lessen the negative impact divorce has on a child.