While California has long favored joint custody agreements when they are possible, some states are only now beginning to embrace this concept as the preferred method of assigning custody after divorce. Missouri has become the most recent state to adopt this change, joining an ever-growing number of states embracing shared parenting.

Several states have passed shared parenting laws. They have embraced the concept that traditional custody arrangements often leave a child with less meaningful time with his other parent. Studies abound that show that having a meaningful relationship with both parents is highly beneficial to a child’s development and emotional health.

The newer child custody laws vary in their application. For example, Missouri’s shared parenting law provides that fathers should have an equal shot in custody battles, which have long been ruled in favor of mothers. The law prohibits judges from making custody decisions based on the parent’s gender or the child’s age. Arizona’s law does not only concentrate on custody or visitation matters. It instead emphasizes that parenting should be shared by both parents regardless of how much time each parent individually has with the child. Since 2015, 20 states have been considering various versions of child custody law reform.

Child custody disputes can often be one of the most contentious aspects of a parental divorce. Although awarding joint legal custody, which involves decision-making, has become relatively common, many people still hold the view that mothers are the best caregivers and should thus be awarded physical custody. A father who would like to have more than just limited visitation rights may want to have the assistance of a family law attorney when setting forth his case in front of a judge.