U.S. News and World Report have an article on child custody reform across the country, and Missouri’s policy to encourages courts to maximize time children have with both parents.

According to the article, research shows that children want open contact with both parents and that meaningful involvement with both parents produces the best outcomes for children.

The idea of shared parenting polls around 70% approval, yet few people realize that shared arrangements are not typical until they or someone close to them go through a divorce. It is a shock how quickly courts separate children and one parent, usually their fathers.

Arizona’s original child custody reform instructed courts to maximize time with each parent according to the best interests of the child. The policy worked well. Missouri’s new policy is a looser version of the policy recommendation Arizona passed.

For all our progress in equality, our courts still assume that children should remain with women and that a consistent physical dwelling is more important than significant and substantial time with both parents.

With an informed judiciary, the “maximize time standard” has seen equal parenting time in Arizona go from a rarity to almost normal and attitudes about parenting have shifted for the better.

One of the most significant impacts of the statute has been the change in terminology from “visitation” and “custody” to “parenting time” and “legal decision-making.

I’ve written about custody issues before. In Florida, we went through a major transformation of our custody laws in adopting the parenting plan concept, and eliminating the outdated terms of “primary residential parent” and “visitation.”

It is not Florida’s express public policy that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.

There is also no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.

In Florida today, courts order that the parental responsibility for children be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.

The U.S. News and World Report article is here.