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Kane County Divorce: Shared Custody works for Danes

In my divorce and custody practice, I have always been an advocate for shared parenting plans for the right set of parents. When both Father and Mother are good and loving parents, there is no reason to cause one parent (typicaly Dad) to suffer the stigma of having “visitation” with his own children. The more opportunities that each parent has to parent their children allows the children to grow into better adolescent lives and behavior patterns. Children of divorce that experience two loving parents in their lives tend to do best long term.

A recent study from Denmark supports shared parenting:

The Copenhagen Post: “While equal custody arrangements became increasingly common in Denmark over the past decade, in 2007 they became the rule of law when a unanimous parliament passed the Parental Responsibility Act and made equally custody the default.

As a result, unless the parents agree to a different custody arrangement, the state favours and enforces equal custody, known as the 7/7 solution, which sees children spend alternating seven-day periods with each parent.

From the beginning it was controversial; parents and experts questioned whether having two homes was healthy for kids. Four years later the Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI) has released the first report of its kind on how the arrangement is affecting the children, and the results are mixed.

“It’s more difficult for children to have two homes than one. But that’s not tantamount to saying its distressing for all children,” Mai Heide Ottosen, an SFI senior researcher and the study’s author, told Politiken newspaper. “If the parents are able to create continuity between the two different home situations, it can work well.”

By continuity, Ottosen means not only that they must agree to basic parenting rules, but that they should also live close to one another and be willing to switch days and co-ordinate pick-ups and drop-offs. In short, they should be able to co-operate with one another as well as, or better than, married couples do.

SFI determined that equal custody arrangements are easier for small children to tolerate than for teenagers who want more control over their clothes, rooms, schedules, and proximity to friends.

Not surprisingly, SFI’s study found that 7/7 custody sharing works best when parents freely choose it and plan it together. Such agreement and planning is predicated on being able to co-operate and get along. However, not all divorced couples can do that.”

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