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Laura Dale & Associates, P.C.

Equal parenting bill due before Texas legislature

Changes in parenting time were the focus of almost 20 states this past spring. The proponents of such bills want to get away from sole custody in favor of more equal parenting time.

Utah was the first state to make such changes, and Wisconsin and Arizona were close behind. Many studies have been done to determine if children are better off with both parents in their lives -- the answer is an overwhelming yes.

Here are some federal statistics that show some of the difficulties children from single parent homes fared compared to children from "intact families:"

-- Children are more likely to abuse alcohol and illegal drugs when they are from single parent homes.

-- Children are also more likely to end up in prison.

-- Children from single parent homes are less likely to do well in school or be employed when they are adults.

-- Teenage girls are more likely to become pregnant when they are raised in single parent homes.

Many of the same problems are experienced by children whose parents divorce. However, courts usually do not award equal parenting time. Those parents who do not end up with custody of their children see them about 14 to 20 percent of the time. The "standard visitation order" in Texas is for a father to see his children around 22 percent of the time.

One sociologist calls parents who only have their kids for this small amount of time "Disneyland Parents." In other words, these parents are more entertainers than they are parents.

While child custody can be one of the most contentious parts of a divorce, it doesn't have to be. If you and your soon-to-be ex can come to an agreement on a shared parenting time schedule, the judge may decide it is in the best interests of the children.

Source: Longview News Journal, "Franklin: Give divorced fathers time with children," Robert Franklin, June 20, 2015

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