Ethics for Divorce "Bystanders"
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Can Virginia embrace change & describe parenthood in terms of duties, not ownership??

Prominent Northern Virginia collaborative family lawyer Albert Bonin writes in this week's Virginia Lawyers' Weekly:

... Is it time for the Commonwealth of Virginia to get on board?  Instead of relying on the term “custody” when dissolving a marriage, the term “parental responsibilities” would take its place when deciding the circumstances of a parent’s role in family law matters. Eliminating the loaded concept of “custody” allows the parties and their lawyers to focus on concrete consequences of specific actions by parents. ... The compelling force behind changing the law is a desire to remove a sense of ownership associated with the word “custody.”   This change represents an effort to encourage parents to focus on their parenting duties, rather than viewing their children as property that can be “won” or “lost.” ... It is easier for the lay person to understand ... "parenting time" and "decision-making" ....

In many cases, a parent who “loses” custody may become uninvolved with the children, which will often lead to problems with payment of child support and post-decree actions. Without the “win/lose” situation often presented in custody cases, there may be less loss of contact between a parent and a child and fewer problems with child support. The child will benefit by having an involved parent and adequate financial support.

It has been suggested that a change in the law is simply a matter of semantics. The reality, though, is that words are powerful tools, and careful usage can determine whether a divorce will be highly conflicted or more cooperative. Too often, a party gets hung up on the fact that the other parent will have “custody.” ...

More at:

Changing ‘custody’ statutes might change attitudes


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