Shared custody may be for the best

Contrary to popular belief, shared child custody after divorce may be more beneficial than previously thought. In the last several years there has been a change in the opinions of shared versus sole custody. The historic belief that shared physical custody may impose undue stress on a child is being challenged by researchers.

It was once believed that a shared custody situation exposed children to increased stress due to having to constantly change their surroundings and schedules. However, in recent years, some researchers have been looking at the stress levels of teenagers in nuclear and mixed families and have reported some surprising findings.

As to be expected, teenagers in nuclear families were found to have the lowest reported stress levels and the fewest psychosomatic problems when compared to children in shared and sole custody families. What may come as a surprise to many is that when comparing teenagers in shared custody arrangements to those in sole custody arrangements, the teenagers living in a shared custody situation had a significantly lower stress level than those living with just one parent.

It has always been the practice of the family court to award custody based on what is in the child’s best interests. With some studies reporting findings like those above, it should come as no surprise that joint custody is often considered by the family court to be the gold-standard custody arrangement.

It is a common belief that engaged and supportive parents play a critical role in their child’s development and emotional well-being. Maintaining that support system is even more crucial after divorce. Contact with both parents may only help to support a child’s mental and emotional health and happiness. Divorcing parents may help enforce this effective support system by working with their attorneys toward a shared custody arrangement.