When it comes to divorce proceedings, children are often the ones who suffer most. Studies show that children with access to both parents help them to deal with life-altering events. Fortunately, Arizona laws allow co-parenting to continue after separation, placing children first, no matter the circumstances.
Making the grade
In September 2019, the National Parents Organization released a study that looked at how each state handles child custody arrangements. Over a third of U.S. states received a “D” or below on this virtual report card, indicating that they have not made legislative steps to ensure children benefit from shared parenting. Because statistics state single-parent and fatherless families represent 63% of teen suicides and 90% of runaway and homeless children, these results are disheartening.
The NPO believes that parents should be a direct influence on children’s lives. The organization seeks legislation that enforces equal time or shared scheduling where one parent handles at least a third of the time. Comparing legislation from 2014 to 2019, the number of states that encourage and provide for co-parenting increased from 26 to 34. While a 30% increase is promising, there are still some states where children are not the focus of rulings.
Only two states received an “A” grade from the NPO. Kentucky enforces legislation that places shared custody as the norm, with an alternative single-parent ruling taking effect only if enough evidence is present to warrant such a decision. This not only upholds parental rights, but it also puts children in the advantageous position of having access to both caregivers.
Arizona received an “A” rating, thanks to a “maximizing time” provision, legislation that promotes giving parents the greatest amount of time with their children. Even though the wording may be up to interpretation, Arizona legislators have determined that this means equal physical custody between both caregivers. The NPO hopes that Arizona law will act as a guidepost for states that fall well-below acceptable child custody legislation standards.