For many years, Texas fathers may have had good reason to be concerned that going through with their divorce would leave them estranged from their children. After all, one of the most important aspects to building a positive parent-child relationship is active presence and involvement, which can be difficult to do when parents only see their children a few times every month. In the past, many experts advised that mothers retain sole custody, especially for infants and toddlers, and even said that overnight parenting time with their fathers could be harmful. However, joint custody is now a preferred choice for family courts and child development experts across the country.
Child psychologists and other experts emphasize the beneficial effects of joint child custody. In most cases, children will move back and forth between their parents' homes on an approximately weekly basis. Joint custody can be particularly ideal for very young children as school schedules and extracurricular activities have not yet begun to interfere with the children's custody schedule. This type of 50/50 shared parenting schedule may not fit all families' needs, but in general, some form of shared physical custody is the best option to support children's needs.
Statistics back up this position. Children raised with shared parenting are more likely to have higher levels of academic achievement, lower levels of behavioral problems and better physical and mental health. Of course, since joint custody is preferred, children who grow up with sole custody may face other serious family issues like abuse or neglect.
Divorcing parents do not need to relinquish the bond they have with their children when they end their marriage. A family law attorney may work to help a parent protect the parent-child relationship and negotiate a fair agreement on child support, child custody and related issues.