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How shared parenting is changing custody agreements

Options for child custody arrangements for divorced parents in Texas might include the children living in one home while the parents alternate staying there or schedules in which the child spends roughly equal time at each parent's home. In the past, custody schedules tended to favor mothers, and fathers might get visitation rights that allowed them to spend alternate weekends and perhaps a few hours on a weekday with their children.

However, research shows that children who spend more time with both parents are better adjusted. This has led to more effort on the part of parents and courts to work toward shared parenting. Some arrangements, such the one in which the parents take turns in the home, may require a larger degree of cooperation than others. While this worked for one couple, who purchased a home with two master suites, another found that they argued about the condition of the house and other issues. As a result, they switched to a schedule where the child goes back and forth between their homes, spending a few weekdays and alternate weekends with each parent.

One couple even lived together for two years after splitting up. They spent time together in common areas and over meals while keeping separate bedrooms. A more usual custody arrangement might be one in which parents alternate having the child for one week each.

There are several reasons for parents to try to negotiate a child custody agreement instead of going to court. It leaves them in greater control of the final schedule and may allow them to create a plan that best suits their family. If they are struggling to reach an agreement, alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation may help. In cases where the other parent is entirely uncooperative or endangering the well-being of the child, litigation might be necessary.

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