The Best Living Arrangement for Children of Divorce

Divorce takes a huge toll on the entire family, and the kids especially feel the stress. Up until recently, the old way of thinking was to have joint custody of the child—such as the child may have an every-other-weekend custody arrangement with the non-full-time parent, but certainly not an equal custody arrangement with both parents. A study from Stockholm, Sweden is showing that this type of unequal joint custody is causing kids more harm than good. In the study, it showed that kids who live with the nuclear family are the happiest—no surprise there.

In this Swedish study recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, it reports:

“Researchers wanted to see if kids who lived part time with both parents were more stressed than those who lived with just one parent. They looked at national data from almost 150,000 12- and 15-year-old students—each in either sixth grade or ninth grade—and studied their psychosomatic health problems, including sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches, stomachaches and feeling tense, sad or dizzy. They found that 69 percent of them lived in nuclear families, while 19 percent spent time living with both parents and about 13 percent lived with only one parent.

Kids in nuclear families reported the fewest psychosomatic problems, but the more interesting finding was that students who lived with both of their separated parents reported significantly fewer problems than kids who lived with only one parent.”

In an ideal world, researchers believe that the children should have contact with both parents daily. This keeps the bond between both the child and the parents. However, this type of custody arrangement, called “shared parenting,” is much more common in Sweden than the US. In the US, we have a system of joint custody and the every-other-weekend parent. However, experts say that research in favor of shared parenting is overwhelmingly positive. The concern for American parents is that the kids will turn into suitcase kids, dragging themselves and their belongings from one parent’s house to another several times a week. But researchers say this type of constant contact between both parents is best for the child. It keeps the relationship between parent and child close and loving. Despite all the research in favor of shared parenting, Ned Holstein, MD, founder and acting executive director of the National Parents Organization, estimates the rate is less than 20 percent for shared parenting in the US.

At Fields and Dennis, we treat our clients with the utmost respect during the difficult time of divorce, especially in regard to custody agreements. We understand that an entire family is often involved, and it is crucial to protect the interests of the children. Please contact us today if you are looking for a trusted and strategic Boston divorce lawyer.

Based on this Time article: