19 J. Am. Acad. Matrimonial Law. 237 (2004-2005)
Developing Beneficial Parenting Plan Models for Children following Separation and Divorce

handle is hein.journals/jaaml19 and id is 251 raw text is: Vol. 19, 2005 Parenting Following Separation and Divorce 237
Developing Beneficial Parenting Plan
Models for Children Following
Separation and Divorce
Joan B. Kelly*
With the dramatic rise in the divorce rate in the 1960's,
courts were increasingly called upon to settle disputes regarding
living arrangements for children following their parents' separa-
tion and divorce. Courts drew upon cultural and societal views
of fathering and parent-child relationships at that time, and visit-
ing arrangements emerged that delegated mothers, with rare ex-
ception, as the primary caretakers, and fathers as visitors in
children's lives.' This maternal preference reflected society's
view that fathers were not particularly important in the develop-
ment of children's overall social, intellectual, and emotional well-
being, a view reinforced by Freudian psychoanalytic theory,
which dominated the training and thinking of mental health pro-
fessionals for decades.2 Early studies of children's attachment
processes also focused exclusively on mothers and infants, and
the field of child development had not yet studied the father's
influence and role in children's overall development.
Child development and divorce research of the past twenty-
five years provides ample evidence that the traditional alternat-
ing weekend visiting pattern failed to meet the psychosocial and
emotional needs of many separated children in both the short
and longer-term. These empirical findings have shaped the
emergence of appropriate and beneficial parenting plan options,
which consider children's developmental and psychological
needs, and provide alternatives for parents, courts, and profes-
sionals to consider as they decide upon the shape of children's
* Dr. Kelly is a Psychologist and Consultant in Corte Madre, CA.
1 Joan B. Kelly, The Determination of Child Custody, 4 FUTURE OF
CHILD.: CHILD. & DIVORCE 121, 122 (1994).
2 Id.

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