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Arizona's Shared Custody Law May Be Creating Unexpected Outcomes

Arizona's Shared Custody Law May Be Creating Unexpected Outcomes

When parents decide to split up, the process to do so is rarely as simple as each one deciding to go their own way. Practically speaking, they need to figure out how to continue providing a supportive environment for their children. Knowing this, parents might decide to push for a shared or sole physical custody arrangement.

Arizona is one of a handful of states that have joint child custody laws on the books. This statute is designed to encourage parents to share the responsibility of being present in their children's lives. However, a Pew Research survey found that these shared-parenting laws may actually be creating a large number of single fathers.

The results of the study are certainly interesting. However, it might also provide an explanation as to why the number of fathers with sole physical custody has risen dramatically over the last several decades. In 1960, only one percent of households were led by a single father. As of 2011, however, that figure jumped to 8 percent.

Researchers believe this shift can be attributed to the change in assumptions and expectations about parenting created by shared child custody laws. By embracing the idea that men can play a significant role in raising their children, observers believe that fathers began to work harder for the ability to do so.

In many cases, both parents contribute to successful parenting -- and Arizona family law generally supports this idea. As parents come to the table to discuss custody arrangements, it may most beneficial for them to take a critical look at what will be most beneficial for their children. In some cases, it may be best to share physical custody and, in other cases, it may be more suitable to put one parent in that role.

Source: The Atlantic, "The Rise of the Single Dad," Caroline Kitchener, Feb. 24, 2014

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