The common assumption used to be that children endure more stress when they go back and forth between their divorced parents' separate households. You may have heard the term "suitcase kids" to describe children whose separated parents have joint custody.
Research shows that, in America right now, about 25 percent of families are single-parent families with children younger than 18. Additionally, each year more than a million children experience their parents' divorce.
Divorce is extremely emotional, and it's understandable when parents get caught up in their own personal struggles and aren't exactly sure of how to proceed in a constructive way. While there are methods of dispute resolution that can minimize spousal friction, conflict between divorcing spouses is still a reality.
Children want and need both of their parents, but historically child custody has been handled in the courts in such a way as to make the parents adversaries. This creates a situation in which one parent wins and the other parent loses. Despite the court's intention of protecting the child's best interests, the win-or-lose approach too often greatly limits a loving and capable parent's time with the child.
Receiving all of the child support to which they are entitled is obviously in the best interests of the children getting those payments. It is also arguably in society’s best interests. Custodial parents who are not getting financial support from their children’s other parent often struggle financially, and may need to turn to public relief for help with basic necessities.
Sometimes when we read about celebrity divorces or child custody cases the issues can seem worlds away from the ones that average Florida families experience. However, at the heart of every child custody and support dispute is always the priority of serving the best interests of the child and in looking at cases in the news we can see the different ways that can be interpreted. In some cases it leads to creative solutions that are unconventional but help create stability for the children.
A state Court of Appeals recently ordered a woman to return the child support payments she had received from her former partner pursuant to a previous court order. The payments will be returned because the woman's partner is not a biological or legal parent to the child. The situation arose when the two women were in a relationship years ago and decided to have a child. One of them, who currently has full custody, is the biological mother. The other woman never adopted the child and they were not married at the time of the birth, so she has no legal ties.
Recently released Census figures show that the number of children living with their grandparents has risen 64 percent over the past twenty years. When the survey was conducted in 2010, 2.7 million grandparents were the primary caretakers for their grandchildren.