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Substantive parenting arrangements in the USA: unpacking the policy choices [2015] CLFQ 249

Date:6 JAN 2016
Keywords: Post-separation parenting - best interests - rules - discretion - shared parenting

Policymakers in the USA currently debate whether to keep discretionary child custody standards, that is, 'best interests of the child' clarified by some factors, or to move to a more rule-based system, such as a presumptive shared parenting regime. This article briefly sets out the problem, theoretical and evidence-based ways of approaching it, and some new results from a study of court documents from one US state indicating that a strong presumption of shared custody is associated with an increase in post-decree domestic violence. While presumptions or de facto rules should facilitate bargaining, these results may tip the balance towards the standards plus factors approach.
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