In academic circles, there is a growing awareness that family courts may be inadvertently harming the development of children by awarding sole guardianship to one parent during a divorce. In fact, the U. S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that children raised by single parents made up 63 percent of all teen suicides and 71 percent of high school dropouts. Furthermore, the CDC estimates that 85 percent of those in prison were raised in single parent homes.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley commissioned a panel last year to explore resolutions to problems associated with children of single parent homes. The commission on Child Custody Decision Making is hoping to recommend implementations which would alter current trends in Maryland family courts. The commission is trying to open a dialogue about ending the Court’s present practice of awarding sole guardianship of children to mothers in eight out of 10 cases. The commission’s job is to advocate for keeping both parents actively involved in their children’s lives.
A former psychologist with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted a thorough analysis of over 1,846 children in sole custody living arrangements and 814 children involved in joint custody arrangements. That expert found that children living in the joint custody arrangements exhibited behavior which suggested that they were as well-adjusted as children living within intact families.
Divorced Maryland parents with children should know that they have a right to be involved in the rearing of their children under most circumstances. Unless there are issues involving domestic abuse, any parent can petition the court for visitation or even joint guardianship. A modified parenting plan with increased contact between both parents could later prove invaluable towards their children’s personal development.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Joint custody should be the rule, not the exception” Ned Holstein, Oct. 08, 2014