More and more, courts award joint custody to both parents when they decide to get divorced. Sole custody situations do still occur, typically when a child’s health and well-being are at stake, but they’re not used lightly. The courts prefer shared custody and consider it to be the optimal situation.
There are skeptics who believe these situations don’t work, in large part because they can be stressful for parents. But studies have repeatedly demonstrated that this is not the case.
The benefits of joint custody are clear
For example, a PhD researcher looked at cases involving 251 children with married parents, 814 children with divorced parents who shared custody and 1,846 children with divorced parents, one of whom had sole custody. What he found was that those in families with joint custody:
- Had higher self-esteem
- Enjoyed better family relationships
- Had fewer emotional issues
- Had fewer behavioral problems
- Performed better in school
In fact, the report noted that some of the children with divorced parents who shared custody may actually have had more contact with each parent than those in intact families. This could mean that they really do better in all of these key areas. That contact with each parent is crucial to a child’s ability to develop and grow.
Working out a parenting plan takes time
If you’re getting divorced and you’ve been mulling over your options, this helps to show you that joint custody can work and divorce does not have to have a negative impact on your child. You just need to know about all of the options that you have to set up the best possible custody plan for your family.