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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Children need both parents, even post-divorce

The research literature is unambiguously clear that children who grow up in intact, married families have the best shot at a good life ("Divorce-prevention plan advises time, talk," Web, Sunday). Unfortunately, divorces can and will occur, nonetheless.

In addition to delaying the divorce process in the service of reconciliation, as suggested in this report, a second reform would be to give the children of divorce what they themselves see as the best possible post-divorce family structure. Research again is unambiguously clear that young-adult children of divorce overwhelming would have wanted equal, shared parenting or something very close to it when they were growing up. In most cases, they also would have preferred that their parents had stayed together.

Perhaps optimal would be a two-part policy reform: First, divorce should be delayed in the service of parental reconciliation. Second, should divorce proceed, revise divorce law to start with a presumption of equal, shared parenting as the cornerstone of divorce policy. The latter reform truly would serve the best interests of the children of divorced couples. Most children want both parents involved in their lives following divorce.

GORDON E. FINLEY

Emeritus professor of psychology

Florida International University

Miami

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