They say opinions are like … never mind. And everyone of course has a favorite opinion or two about child custody. Yet regardless of whose … opinion … you prefer, in Family Court every custody evaluator, lawyer, judge, and litigant’s opinion seems to be different. Dad’s rights groups and pro-“friendly parent” organizations such as AFCC may press for “shared parenting“, Feminists may press for a “primary caretaker” standard. Judges and many mom’s rights advocates insist on maintaining the “best interests” standard. Other researchers prefer the “approximation rule” preferred by the American Law Institute.
Which is best? What are the dangers of finding out? Does the answer simply depend on who you ask? Is there any research showing how children and parents perform in various scenarios, or are we doomed to debate ideology and settle for political gridlock?
There is one opinion that is universal in family court: professional opinions can cost a small fortune.
Are they worth it? How do you know? Are all opinions necessarily subjective? Is there an empirical basis for preferring one custody arrangement over another? What does the data tell us about the best custody arrangements? Are there reliable comparative data showing the effect of various custody arrangements on parents and children after divorce?
California Coalition here shares its growing database of evidence in the California Coalition v. San Diego County Bar Association litigation, this time on what the data show about various outcomes for children in different custody arrangements. These researchers discuss current and ongoing studies showing longitudinal outcomes for parents and children after divorce to attempt to answer the elusive question: Is there such a thing as a “good divorce” for kids? Moms, dads, feminists, judges, and legislators take note–the answers may surprise you.
From the 2009 AFCC 41st Annual Conference in New Orleans, we bring you highlights from the seminar:
From the Conference brochure:
Back to the Future or Full Steam Ahead?
What Research Shows about Children and Divorce
Studies suggest that children are generally resilient following their parents’ divorce and that those with healthy relationships with both parents often thrive. These findings are often articulated – by professionals, interests groups and parents alike – into platitudes such as “equal parenting time is always best” or “a good divorce does not harm children.” Does the research fully support these statements? Is there any evidence that we should re-examine more traditional notions? This session will explore some of the myths and realities of research and conventional child custody wisdom.
Paul Amato, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Jennifer McIntosh, Ph.D., Family Transitions and La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
Moderator: Dianna Gould-Saltman, J.D., Gould-Saltman Law Offices, Los Angeles, CA