An unhappy marriage can feel like an immense burden on couples in Arizona. Even after filing for divorce, a lot of time goes into negotiating the separation of assets and debts. When couples have children, the disentanglement becomes even more difficult as they must work together to raise happy, healthy and well-adjusted children.

In most instances, mothers receive either full or primary custody. Even so, as gender roles change and men spend more time with their children, they become more reluctant to part with their role as a parent after divorce. This contributes to an increase in shared custody arrangements. Social scientists who study children raised in sole custody and shared custody arrangements now say that shared custody is better for them.

According to NPR, researchers claim that courts hurt children’s best interests when they do not award joint custody more often. However, they also acknowledge that when domestic violence is a factor, it may prove unwise to force children to spend time with both parents, or to force one parent to maintain a connection with the abuser because of the child. Nevertheless, this does happen from time to time. Note that Arizona is one of a handful of states that established measures in the past few years that lean more favorably toward equal, joint custody arrangements.

The word “equal” is key here. Fathers have long received the right to see their children every other weekend or so. Still, Business Insider likens these to visits, where children become more like guests than family in their fathers’ homes. Fathers then became more like a fun uncle, while the “real parenting” falls on the mothers.

Researchers find that when domestic violence is not a factor, children who spent adequate time with both parents have several perks over peers who live primarily with one parent. They are less likely to start smoking, they perform better in school and they are less likely to develop problems related to mental health.

Even without domestic violence, not every family arrangement is ideal for 50/50 custody arrangements. One parent may work longer hours than the other or may travel extensively for work. There is also no guarantee that both parents will live within close proximity of each other until all kids turn 18. In these and similar situations, parents may need to consider other arrangements.