For many years, the popular thinking in child custody and divorce cases was that children should live primarily with one parent, while visiting the other infrequently, such as every other weekend. The idea behind this was that a child would be stressed out by constantly going between two homes.
A recent study demonstrates the opposite, however. The Swedish study, reported in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health on April 27, instead found that children fare best when they spend more equal amounts of time with both parents in a shared parenting arrangement.
The researchers wanted to determine whether children who spent more time with one parent would be less stressed than those who split custody between both. They reviewed data concerning 150,000 12- and 15-year-olds, looking at psychosomatic health problems reported by them. The majority of them lived in nuclear family arrangements, while 13 percent lived with one parent after a divorce and 19 percent split time between both divorced parents. While those children living in nuclear families reported the fewest problems, the children living with only one parent reported the most issues. Children who split time between both parents thus appeared to be less stressed out overall than those whose custody was ordered according to traditional thought.
In every child custody dispute, parents should always keep their child's best interests in mind over their own. While shared parenting is not a good idea in some cases, such as those involving domestic violence, abuse or substance abuse issues, it may be a healthier approach for most children. Those who are involved in this type of a matter may want to discuss the possibility of shared parenting with their family law attorney. Divorce is difficult for children, and choosing an arrangement that helps the child adjust the best is always important.