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New law allows judges to consider shared physical custody

Anyone in Maryland who has kept an eye on the news of late may recall that some states are considering changing current custody laws. The concept of shared physical custody is gaining ground in many jurisdictions as the definition of "family" changes. Recently, one state's senators voted to change its law to allow judges to consider an equal split of parenting time.

The new law provides criteria for judges to consider when evaluating custody. Shared custody may be awarded if parents meet those criteria. Currently, the state's law provides that the court award primary physical custody to one parent with visitation rights to the other parent.

The impetus for this change in the South Dakota law comes from fathers who were denied custody of their children. Many Maryland fathers would agree that the system seems to favor mothers when it comes to custody. However, plenty of mothers around the country could also benefit from such a change in the law.

One mother in particular is happy to see that the law could change. She was denied primary physical custody of two of her young children even though she currently has custody of another child from a previous relationship. Ultimately, custody is about what is best for the child. Judges would still retain the discretion to deny shared custody, especially in cases of domestic abuse, if this potential bill passes into law.

As the gender roles in our society continue to blur, the concept of shared physical custody could become more important in divorces with children. Many couples realize that even though their marriage is over, they will always be parents. Developing an understanding of Maryland divorce laws could increase a spouse's odds of continuing to be an equal parent to his or her children.

Source: keloland.com, Mother Supports Shared Parenting, Ben Dunsmoor, Feb. 6, 2014

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