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Should public opinion matter regarding child custody trends?

Sources report that a new study related to family law will be published in this month's Psychology, Public Policy, and Law journal. The study reportedly reveals the U.S. public's perception of and hopes for the family law system in regard to child custody decisions.

As a country, we generally favor equality in most aspects of our lives. According to the new study, that ideology apparently applies to our beliefs about parental rights as well. Based on the research, surveyed subjects significantly favor equal parenting time for fathers and mothers in various child custody cases.

While our source doesn't delve thoroughly into the full study, it summarizes how university researchers gave their study subjects hypothetical divorce situations to consider. In some of the cases, the mother had been the primary caregiver to the child during the marriage. In other cases, the father had been the primary caregiver. In the other cases, both parents were equal caregivers before the divorce.

Based on those various hypotheticals, the researchers wanted to get their survey subjects' opinions on how child custody should be awarded in each of the cases. What the study shows is that it didn't matter very much whether one parent was more of a caregiver than the other before a divorce. When it comes down to it, the people see joint custody and equal time with the kids as the ideal post-divorce arrangement.

The lead author of the Arizona study compares the research's findings with the public's perception that the family law system unethically favors mothers. He suggests to family law players that, in order to protect their and the system's image, they should respond to the public's supposed belief that child custody decisions are unfair and deny fathers their parental rights.

Perhaps the idea that child custody decisions are "unfair" is merely the general public's misperception. Most of us, in fact, are not in family court every day like attorneys, judges and others whose work and experience support custody decisions. Do you think that the system is flawed? Or, are people like those surveyed in this study possibly just being cynical?

Source

Psych Central News: "Public Support Rising for Joint Custody," Rick Nauert, 3 May 2011

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