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Md. women join in call for dads to have equal parenting time

Notable women from across the political spectrum have joined several dads in their call for more equal parenting time following a divorce by forming a new coalition called Leading Women for Shared Parenting. Although more and more experts are suggesting that a split child custody arrangement is best, many family law courts still award primary custody to the children's mother most of the time.

Like in those in many other states, Maryland child custody laws do not require a court to award primary child custody to the mother absent special circumstances. A husband and wife are theoretically on equal footing during a divorce in Maryland, allowing the judge to explore the unique situation of each family and make an informed decision about what is in the best interests of the children involved.

However, as many father's rights lawyers recognize, there is still a trend among family law judges to award custody to the children's mother when all other factors are in equal balance. For those who want to see fathers play a greater role in their children's lives following a divorce, the support that this group of women has shown for "shared parenting" is therefore welcome.

The women who have joined this advocacy group have various reasons for supporting shared parenting time between moms and dads. One social worker claims that when a girl gets deprived of the time she needs with her father, she can suffer serious emotional harm. Other members, including attorneys and domestic abuse advocates, believe from personal experience that when both parents are loving to their children and respectful of each other, shared parenting can work.

Of course, the group acknowledges that there are situations, like domestic violence, in which a court should not award equal parenting time. However, one director of a Maryland domestic violence group has joined the new coalition and believes there may be a revolution in the number of women involved in shared parenting.

A Howard County child custody lawyer may be able to answer questions should a Maryland couple going through a divorce wish to explore a shared custody arrangement. In those situations in which shared custody is not best, parents should remember that in Maryland, child custody depends largely on each family's individual circumstances.

Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "Rosenblum: Divorced dads get big gift from fired-up moms," Gail Rosenblum, June 8, 2013

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