Swedish study says joint physical custody better for kids

Florida parents who are divorcing may be interested to learn that a recent study has shown that children who are in joint custody situations tend to be better adjusted than children who spend the majority of their time with one parent. The study appeared on April 27 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health and was conducted by researchers in Sweden.

It looked at nearly 150,000 children who were 12 and 15 years of age. Of the children in the study, 13 percent lived with one divorced parent. Another 19 percent went back and forth between both parents, and the remainder were in nuclear families. The study questioned children about emotions and psychosomatic problems such as sadness, loss of appetite and headaches. The children in nuclear families suffered the fewest number of problems followed by the children who spent time with both parents. The children who lived with only one parent had the most problems. Girls, who frequently reported sadness, were more likely to have problems than boys.

The study results contradict some commonly-held assumptions in the United States that moving back and forth between parents' homes is disruptive and damaging for children after a divorce. Shared physical custody is much more common in Sweden, and around 40 percent of children have this arrangement versus fewer than 20 percent in the United States.

Parents may wish to keep this study in mind during negotiations over child custody. A court will base its decision on the best interests of the child, and it is possible that those best interests may be better served by splitting time equally between parents. Depending on the child's age, the child's preference may be considered as well. Parents may wish to seek legal counsel during child custody negotiations to help ensure a solution that is satisfactory for all parties involved.

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