Going through a divorce can be especially hard for children, and the general public along with some child experts seem to agree that dividing time between two households adds stress to an already difficult situation. However, Florida residents may be surprised by the findings of a recent Swedish study that shows that joint custody agreements cause less anxiety than parenting plans where one parent has sole physical custody.
The study that was published on April 27 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that children had less psychosomatic health problems when living with both parents compared to children who lived with one parent. Researchers used Swedish national data to compare close to 150,000 students who were either 12 or 15 years of age. Some of them were part of a nuclear family, while others lived with only one parent after a divorce. The remainder were part of shared custody arrangements.
While children in nuclear families reported less psychosomatic problems like difficulty concentrating, headaches, trouble sleeping and loss of appetite, those who spent time living with both parents in separate environments reported substantially less problems than those who lived with only one divorced parent. A representative of the study said it is easy to assume that children whose parents have shared custody feel more stressed because of frequently moving between houses, but regular contact with both parents seems to negate much of the anxiety that could come with shared custody situations.
Shared custody arrangements are not as prevalent here as they are in Sweden, but they are gaining in popularity. Unless circumstances such as previous domestic violence make co-parenting unsafe, a court might want this type of arrangement first when a couple goes through a divorce. A family law attorney might assist a parent in negotiating a joint custody agreement that can be submitted to the court for its approval.