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Is shared parenting best?

In the late 1970s, psychologists started to recognize a symptom of divorce known as "father hunger." When a single mother reared her children without regular involvement and visitation from the father, it was not uncommon for children and fathers to want to have more time with one another.

Previously it was the belief that mothers were the most important person in their children's lives and fathers were not entirely necessary. As a result, mothers were given priority in court-ordered divorce decisions, and fathers were given the short end of the stick.

These days, after extensive research, psychologists and courts agree that children should spend as much time with both parents as possible. In fact, research shows that children benefit greatly when both parents are actively involved in their children's care. Nowadays, we call this "shared parenting."

As the 20th century came to a close, more and more courts began to offer fathers every other weekend visitation rights. The problem was, however, that this put fathers into the role of "entertainment director" rather than a real child-parent relationship. This seems to have a negative effect on the children. Conversely, studies show that children who spend at least 35 percent of the time with one parent exhibit better social, academic and psychological adjustment. They tend to have better grades, smoke less, drink less and so on.

The benefits of shared parenting are clear. However, just because you're in favor of it does not mean that your ex-spouse will agree. As such, Tennessee parents may need to fight for their shared parenting right in order to establish the parenting relationship they desire.

Source: The Law Office of Steven C. Girsky, "After divorce, shared parenting is best for children’s health and development," Richard A. Warshak, accessed June 29, 2017

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