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Study: Children may fare better when parents in California share custody

A new study suggests that shared custody can lead to children coping better following a divorce.

One of the most difficult aspects that Californians face when going through a divorce is developing a plan for custody of their children. The issue may call to mind emotional and financial concerns for both parents. Further, parents may be worried about how the process will affect the children.

A new study suggests that when parents share custody, children fare better than when they are living with just one parent. People in Riverside who are exploring the option of shared parenting should know when it is advisable and how to make a plan.

Key findings

The study, published last year in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, evaluated families in Sweden, where joint physical custody of children is common. Researchers surveyed all sixth- and ninth-grade students to compare their current living arrangements with the presence of any psychosomatic issues. The living arrangements include the following:

  • Children living only or mostly with just one parent
  • Children living in nuclear families
  • Children who are in joint physical custody situations

Children in nuclear families had the least amount of psychosomatic issues, such as feeling sad or having difficulty sleeping. However, children in joint custody had fewer such issues than those living mostly with or only with one parent.

Why it matters

Some people believe that children who go back and forth between two households may endure more stress. However, this research demonstrates that the situation may be preferable. In the study, researchers placed satisfaction with the parent-child relationship into the psychosomatic health of the child. Based on the outcome of the study, parents could conclude that joint custody could be better for the children.

Drafting a co-parenting plan

The Judicial Branch of California points out that joint physical custody does not mean that children spend the exact same amount of time with each parent. The recommendation is to enable children to see each parent as much as possible while sticking to a regular schedule. This will take both parents discussing holidays, weekends and special occasions ahead of time. Experts state that keeping children in a routine as much as possible will be beneficial.

When joint custody is not advisable

Despite the findings of this study, joint custody is rarely advisable in certain situations. For example, if domestic abuse or substance abuse is involved, it may not be in the best interest of the child to live with that parent. Additionally, parents should be able to collaborate amicably in order to make co-parenting work. Parents who fight all the time could put more stress on children who shuttle between homes.

People who have questions regarding this issue should consult with an attorney.