Children are typically unwilling participants in a divorce. Not only do they not have a say in the matter, but they often must transition from a traditional family lifestyle to a single parent household. Going through such a change can be difficult and hard to adjust to. Children who once saw both parents regularly may spend less time with one parent after the divorce.
Generally, sole physical custody arrangements are a common way to give children a more stable environment. Yet, studies show that kids who grow up in joint custody arrangements may fair better in a wide range of areas.
More than 50 studies have been conducted examining how joint custody affects children in comparison to children raised in sole custody and traditional family situations. The studies, conducted by different researchers and facilities using a range of techniques and methods, showed that children who spend a significant amount of time with both parents tend to fair better than those who spend most of their time with one parent.
The advantages of joint custody for children include the following:
- Better grades
- Stronger family relationships
- Larger social circles
- Fewer behavioral problems
- Fewer instances of depression, anxiety and stress
- Less likelihood of having a drug or drinking problem
Children who spend time with both parents tend to go on to complete higher levels of education and have longer-lasting marriages. Parents who share custody often have less conflict with one another, making it easier for children to transition from one parent to the other. Children often have higher self-esteem and a better overall emotional and behavioral development. Even if kids live in a sole custody arrangement, spending at least 35% of their time with the noncustodial parent can enhance their development and increase their chances for success.