Parenting Plans

Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report

Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report

When parents are married, they generally share the care of their babies —diapering, feeding, bathing, putting to bed, soothing in the middle of the night, cuddling in the morning. But if parents separate or divorce, should children under four spend every
night in one home? Or will infants and toddlers benefit from spending overnight time in the care of each parent?

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Securing Children’s Best Interests While Resisting the Lure of Simple Solutions

Securing Children’s Best Interests While Resisting the Lure of Simple Solutions

The best-interest-of-the-child standard for child custody policy and decisions has benefits and hazards, the latter related to the exercise of judicial discretion in custody disputes. This paper examines  alternatives to the status quo, including the primary parent presumption, the approximation rule, shared parenting, an exact even split of custodial time, sole custody for couples labeled in high conflict or those with young children, the friendly parent presumption, Continue reading

Parenting By The Clock: The Best-Interest-of-The-Child Standard, Judicial Discretion, and the American Law Institute’s “Approximation Rule”

Parenting By The Clock: The Best-Interest-of-The-Child Standard, Judicial Discretion, and the American Law Institute’s “Approximation Rule”

The American Law Institute (ALI) proposes that in contested physical custody cases the court should allocate to each parent a proportion of the child’s time that approximates the proportion of time each spent performing caretaking functions in the past. Proposals from ALI strongly influence legislatures and judges. These articles analyze the “approximation rule” through the lens of child development research and conclude that the rule is unlikely to improve on the Continue reading

The Approximation Rule Survey: The American Law Institute’s Proposed Reform Misses the Target

The Approximation Rule Survey: The American Law Institute’s Proposed Reform Misses the Target

The American Law Institute (ALI) proposed that in contested physical custody cases, the court should allocate to each parent a proportion of the child’s time that approximates the proportion of time each spent performing caretaking functions in the past. The rule is intended to function as a default presumption in disputes decided by a court and as a backdrop for pre-trial negotiations. Proponents of the approximation rule assume that the adoption of the rule, by Continue reading

Who Will Be There When I Cry In The Night?

Who Will Be There When I Cry In The Night?

This journal article is a follow-up to  Blanket Restrictions: Overnight Contact. It was written as a rejoinder to an article that attempted to refute the conclusions drawn in the Blanket Restrictions article.

This article makes the strong case that an accurate and balanced  account of the entire scientific literature relevant to the issue of overnights reveals the lack of scientific and logical justification Continue reading

Blanket Restrictions: Overnight Contact between Parents and Young Children

Blanket Restrictions: Overnight Contact between Parents and Young Children

In attempting to fashion developmentally-sensitive residential schedules, some courts, with the endorsement of mental health professionals, routinely deprive infants and toddlers of overnights with their fathers.

This article describes the specific type of overnight restrictions which some therapists have promoted, and the reasoning behind such guidelines. It analyzes the contributions, misuses, Continue reading

Obstacles and Controversies in the Pursuit of Children’s Best Interests

Obstacles and Controversies in the Pursuit of Children’s Best Interests

This pamphlet is an expanded version of an enthusiastically received keynote address delivered by Dr. Warshak in Arizona in 2000. It proposes the types of reforms necessary for parents, professionals, and courts to better define the best interests of children.

Dr. Warshak calls for more diligence in custody evaluations and in reviews of the literature. He criticizes policies which automatically  discourage joint custody when divorcing parents are in Continue reading

The Primary Parent Presumption: Primarily Meaningless

The Primary Parent Presumption: Primarily Meaningless

The proposal to replace the best interests of the child standard in custody disputes with a preference for the primary parent has been gaining increasing support among legal and mental health professionals. This brief chapter, from a book published by the American Bar Association (based on a 1993 speech), critically appraises this proposal and finds it markedly flawed. Research demonstrates that the parent who has provided more of the daily care of the children Continue reading

Overnight Access for Young Children

Overnight Access for Young Children

In 1994 the Texas Supreme Court Committee on Child Custody was considering a recommendation of no overnight access between children under the age of three and their non custodial parents. In this written commentary to the Committee, Dr. Warshak argues that
such a proposal is inconsistent with child developmental theory, research, and common sense. He points out the significant benefits Continue reading