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New ideas about parenting could lead to new laws

In Kentucky, in most cases both parents will have equal access to their children when custody orders are issued. This has been part of a trend throughout the United States to give parents the right to raise their children when they are no longer married to their spouses. Those who support bills that encourage shared parenting believe that it looks at families as they are today.

In the past, custody was often granted to the mother while the father was allowed visitation. This was a concept known as the "tender years" doctrine that assumed a female was better able to care for a child. Although shared parenting may seem like an inclusive concept, some women's groups believe that it gives abusive parents or controlling former partners the ability to remain in a person's life. They also lament the possibility that child support may be reduced or eliminated if shared parenting becomes the norm.

In addition to a bill passed in Kentucky, there are several other states where equal parenting laws have been considered. Florida passed a bill that was vetoed by the governor while a bill is being considered in Michigan. A Virginia bill would require that judges make child custody decisions in writing. District of Columbia law presumes joint custody is best unless one or both parents are abusive or neglect the child.

Parents who want shared custody of their children may have many options to achieve that goal. It may be possible to negotiate a custody schedule with the child's other parent. It may also be possible to ask a judge to issue a custody order that grants both parents legal or physical custody rights. An attorney may be helpful in obtaining a favorable child custody arrangement.

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