Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Parents organization gives New York custody laws a failing grade

The child custody laws in New York were given a failing grade by the National Parents Organization in 2014 when they rated the provisions for shared parenting contained in the statutes of each state. While Rhode Island was the only other state to receive an F, 23 states managed only the lowest passing grade of D. Only seven states and the District of Columbia were awarded a B, and no state received an A. Critics of child custody laws say that more provision should be made for shared parenting because mounting research indicates that these arrangements make it far easier for the children of divorcing parents to cope.

New York child custody laws were considered inadequate by the NPO for for not recognizing shared parenting or joint custody and basing decisions on case law. New York is also criticized for not requiring courts to weigh the merits of friendly parent factors when making custody decisions and for not encouraging shared parenting in the language of its laws.

The statistics would indicate that shared parenting advocates have a long road ahead of them, but the growing body of research into the subject has prompted legislators in several states to propose new child custody laws. Utah has already increased the number of annual overnight visits awarded to noncustodial parents from 80 to 145, and a proposed Texas bill would make 50/50 custody the presumed order in child custody cases.

Family law attorneys may find research into child custody useful when dealing with parents who have very different ideas about what kind of living arrangements would be in the best interests of their children. In these situations, an attorney may be able to encourage a constructive discussion by introducing the results of research as an independent third voice.

Source: National Parents Organization, "2014 Shared Parenting Report Card" , accessed on June 24, 2015

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