It used to be that nearly every divorce involving children followed a familiar template – the mother was awarded primary child custody, while the father would be asked to make child support payments. In most cases, the father was awarded a modest amount of visitation time, usually every other weekend.
Family roles have changed over the last few decades, though, and with that has come a change in how parenting responsibilities are divvied up after divorce. Now that both moms and dads are playing more active roles in their children’s upbringings, the kids are spending more time shuttling between households.
A study recently published in the Journal of Family Studies found that children of divorced parents tend to switch homes between two and four times in a two-week period. The study – which involved a random sample of 408 parents – also showed that divorced dads are becoming more active in their children’s lives and that divorced parents are sharing their duties more now than they ever have.
Equal parenting time benefits kids
Some divorce experts have criticized the trend toward “50-50” or “equal time” custody arrangements, arguing that frequent moves subject children to unhealthy levels of instability.
However, this doesn’t appear to be the case. The study found that children in 50-50 parenting arrangements tended to spend large blocks of time with each parent, usually living with one for a week and then the other for the next.
The authors noted that these child custody arrangements involve a somewhat delicate balancing act: while extended visits minimize the stress of transition, they also mean longer periods of separation from each parent. Children like to feel connected to both parents, and it is beneficial for them to feel a relatively constant sense of connection. Still, the study’s authors concluded that more extended stays are beneficial because they provide children with a sense of stability and predictability and minimize the stress that often accompanies a custodial handover from one parent to the other.
New Mexico child custody cases
The study should come as welcome news for New Mexico dads who are looking to maximize the time they get to spend with their kids.
After a divorce in New Mexico, there is no presumed child custody situation. Instead, the court will work with the parents – and their children – to create a custody arrangement that is in the children’s best interest. Fathers who wish to have frequent physical custody would be wise to discuss this issue with their divorce attorneys early on in the process. By evaluating the father’s position against the factors that New Mexico courts use to determine child custody, divorce attorneys can help divorcing dads see that their goals are met.