University of Arizona Study Finds Support for Equal Custody of Children

A new study conducted in Arizona found a strong preference for equal parenting time for fathers and mothers after a divorce. The study used polls and ballot initiatives which showed a strong nationwide preference for both parents to actively participate in parenting duties. In addition to the poll questions, the study gave Arizona respondents three hypothetical situations and asked their opinions on who should get custody and how parenting time should be split.

In one case, the mother provided 75 percent of child care pre-divorce, while in another the father provided 75 percent of the couple's child rearing duties. In the final case the parents split pre-divorce duties equally. In all cases, responders were told that each parent wanted as much time with the children as possible - including sole custody, meaning the children would live with one parent all of the time. The researchers stipulated that each parent genuinely believed the children would be better off in his or her care.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents thought parenting time should be split equally when the mother and father contributed equally pre-divorce, and there was near-universal agreement that the children should spend significant time with the father. There was no significant difference in opinion between men and women responders.

Even in the 75 percent parenting-time case vignettes, equal custody was the most popular decision for respondents.

Negative View of the Judicial System

Respondents in the study mostly felt courts are less likely to award equal child custody than the respondents preferred. Generally, those asked felt that courts would award less parenting time to fathers than the respondents themselves would award.

The study may indicate the public views courts as acting with a bias towards giving mothers more time with the children. Whether or not this is true, it may have an affect on divorcing couples and how they approach custody decisions.

A Family Law Attorney Can Help

As the concept of equal co-parenting spreads, it is more important than ever to retain an experienced lawyer during divorce. A lawyer can fight for you in court, and help to explain to a judge why you should be involved in the parenting of your children.