Studies show advantages of joint custody

Some Minnesota parents might be considering joint custody when their marriage comes to an end. Studies have shown that this may be the most beneficial arrangement for children, and this is the case even if there is a great deal of conflict between the parents or if one parent is initially opposed to sharing custody. This was one of the findings of a psychology professor who also examined claims that the supposed effectiveness of shared custody is linked to income. She found no correlation between the income of parents and positive outcomes from joint custody.

More than 50 studies conducted in both the United States and overseas have found that when children spend a minimum of 35 percent of their time with each parent, they do better psychologically, academically and socially compared to children who live with one parent and visit the other. Children who are in shared custody situations are less likely to drink, smoke, use drugs or struggle with anxiety and depression.

Joint custody represents a shift from the 1970s when a divorce often meant that a father had little contact with his children. Even in more recent decades, one parent's role, often the father's, might be relegated to that of a relative the child visits regularly rather than that of a co-parent.

A parent who has significant differences with the other parent may be tempted to fight for custody. The parents could have major disagreements about issues such as religion, politics and lifestyles. However, a parent should keep in mind that the judge is unlikely to consider this an indication that a person will be an unfit parent. As difficult as it may be, a parent might want to try to set those differences aside for the sake of the child and seek a joint custody arrangement.

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