Do joint custody arrangements serve to hurt or help kids?

For parents who divorce or split up, concerns about how a child will adjust and be impacted are often top-of-mind. Previously family judges tended to favor mothers in custody cases, however, today an estimated one-fifth of U.S. child custody cases involve joint arrangements where parents share physical custody rights. While some believe that joint custody arrangements serve to harm a child by creating a constant state of flux as a child goes back and forth between parents, research indicates otherwise.

A recent study conducted by Swedish researchers and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, examined the psychosomatic health problems of some 150,000 sixth and ninth grade students. Of those children surveyed, 19 percent had parents who shared joint custody and 13 percent lived primary with just one parent.

In an effort to gauge the stress levels of participants, researchers examined the prevalence of health problems that are routinely linked to underlying mental stresses including headaches, stomachaches, feelings of sadness and disturbances in sleep and concentration. When comparing those children who split their time between either divorced or separated parents against those who live with only one parent, researchers noted that those in joint custody situations reported "significantly few problems than kids who lived with only one parent."

It's extremely difficult for a parent to be involved and active in a child's life if he or she only sees a son or daughter a few days per month or less. While joint custody arrangements mean that a child must adjust to traveling between parents' homes, any related negative effects appear to be secondary to the benefits of having the attention of and physical time with both parents.

When possible, Minneapolis area parents who are dealing with child custody issues would be wise to explore options including joint custody arrangements. An attorney who handles divorce and family law issues can assist in helping secure a custody agreement that ultimately serves to meet the best interests of a child.

Source: Time, "This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most," Mandy Oaklander, April 27, 2015


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