Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Less stress when both parents are involved in a child's life

While courts in New York and other states usually believe it is best for both parents to have contact with a child or children after a divorce, many observers feel that switching between homes can be stressful for the children involved. However, a recently-published study found that a joint custody arrangement might work better for children than giving one parent sole custody.

The study conducted in Sweden looked at information about 150,000 students who were either 12 or 15 years of age, and 19 percent of the students lived part-time with each divorced parent while 13 percent lived with only one parent after the divorce. The remaining subjects were members of nuclear families. Researchers looked at reported psychosomatic health problems in the students like dizziness, tenseness, loss of appetite, sadness, headaches and sleep problems. The study found that children who switched between living with each divorced parent had significantly fewer problems than children living with a parent who had sole custody. Not surprisingly, those who lived with their married parents had the least issues.

Sleep problems ranked as the most frequent psychosomatic problem in children while girls alone reported sadness as the most common problem, and girls had more of these issues than boys. The researchers pointed out that children who share time with both parents after a divorce may have double the resources than those who live with only one parent. This also could help parents because it is easier to engage with children when being responsible for them and seeing them regularly.

Since courts generally think both parents should play large roles in a child's life, a joint custody arrangement may be favored, and this sometimes involves both parents getting a share of decision-making abilities along with parenting time. If both parties can agree on child custody matters without the input of a judge, this may allow more freedom when devising a parenting plan. Negotiation or mediation can often help in resolving child custody issues.

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