Shared parenting emphasizes parents’ rights at the expense of the best interest of children.
The primary consideration supporting a presumption of shared parenting is the benefits to children. More than 40 years of social science research establishes a growing consensus that in the vast majority of cases, children raised in shared parenting arrangements score significantly higher on almost every metric of child well-being than those raised in a sole custody arrangement.
Even when there is conflict between parents, shared-custody arrangements are better for children than sole-custody arrangements on all measures of behavioral, emotional, physical, and academic well-being and are related to children having better relationships with their parents and grandparents. The quality of the parent child relationship is a better predictor of children’s longterm outcomes than coparenting conflict.
Shared parenting doesn’t cause the better outcomes for children;
it’s just a correlation.
While families that choose shared parenting may have other characteristics that help children succeed (higher income, higher levels of education, less conflict), there is now clear evidence that shared parenting itself, and not just these other characteristics, contributes to children’s well-being. Evidence for this comes from countries where shared parenting is common across socio-economic divisions and, also, from advanced statistical analyses that allow measurement of the effects of shared parenting.
Shared parenting isn’t appropriate for infants and toddlers.
Young children develop primary attachments to more than just one person. Strong, healthy parent child relationships need consistent and frequent contact including daytime and nighttime caregiving. Restricting infants and toddlers from overnights with loving parents is inconsistent with what we know about the development of meaningful parent-child relationships in the first years of life. There is no scientific support for the claim that infants’ and toddlers’ overnighting with their fathers are harmful or interferes with their attachment to their mothers.
While having two homes sometimes causes inconveniences, research has shown that this is not harmful to children, nor does it hinder their developing strong relationships with both parents. Overnights “up to and including equal numbers of overnights at both parents’ homes” benefitted “both the long-term mother-child and father-child relationships.”
Shared parenting isn’t necessary because what benefits children is the quality not the quantity of time with each parent.
The quality of parenting time is vital, of course. But the quantity of parenting time is also vital to children’s well-being. Research shows that benefits to children arise because both parents are significantly involved in ordinary, day-to-day parenting responsibilities, not just weekend and holiday time. And the benefits of shared parenting for children increase as the time with each parent approaches equality.
Shared parenting leaves children vulnerable to abuse.
There is no scientific evidence to support this statement. Shared parenting laws are rebuttable when this type of custody plan is not in the child’s best interest and when there is a demonstrated history of family violence. HHS reports show no increase in cases of child maltreatment in states after enactment of equal shared parenting presumptions. (“Child Maltreatment 2020” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, p. 30.)