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Fathers' advocates gain parenting custody traction

Legislators from Colorado's regional neighbor, Nebraska, are pondering child custody legislation options that would force judges into prioritizing shared custody. The news comes after the appearance of a report published by the State Court Administrator's Office, which showed that noncustodial parents in the state only get about five days with their children every month. Advocates for equal parent custody say that although some legislators are making moves to improve child custody issues, change has been slow to come.

Just 12 percent of child custody cases in the state involve joint custody arrangements and a shared residence. Further, sole custody is granted to mothers about 50 percent of the time, and joint custody makes up about one-third of the cases in the state. Fathers receive sole custody in about one in six cases.

Advocates in the statehouse say they intend to introduce legislation that would push judges to consider joint custody as serving the best interests of the child. A similar bill to improve parenting time requirements failed to get past the Judiciary Committee last year, however; detractors say it might not be possible to achieve change during the short legislative session in 2014.

Courts in Nebraska already have the authority to provide more equal distribution of parenting time, though it appears that judges do not always avail themselves of that option. Although advocates for the child custody changes say that involving both parents is necessary for ideal emotional and academic growth, other studies show that kids in high-conflict divorce situations actually suffer. Those high-conflict cases constitute about 12 percent of the child custody negotiations throughout the state.

It is important to remember that child custody negotiations should always focus on the best interests of the child. In high-conflict situations, contact with the other parent may not always be appropriate. Parents who are working to resolve a child custody dispute may benefit from the assistance of a qualified family attorney, who can help them understand more about Colorado family law.

Source:  Omaha.com, "Nebraska state senator urges action on child custody inequality" Joe Duggan, Jan. 10, 2014

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