Filing for divorce or legal separation is never an easy decision, especially when there are children involved. Child custody may be one of the most challenging issue to negotiate during this difficult time. Many families and courtrooms choose to place the children in the sole-custody of one parent, giving the non-custodial parent visiting time. However, studies show that children may benefit more from a joint-custody situation where the non-custodial parent is around more and engages in everyday activities.
A study published in Family Psychology looked at children who lived in sole-custody, joint-custody and traditional families. Researchers found that the kids who lived in joint-custody situations had a high self-esteem and fewer behavioral and emotional problems. They also did better in school and had stronger family relationships compared to children in the other living situations. Long-term, children who have both active parents achieve higher academic degrees, have better marriages, stronger social support and are overall better adjusted than kids who live primarily with one parent.
Kids in joint-custody households have consistent contact with both parents, and both parents play a large role in their lives. Furthermore, parents tend to be friendlier with one another when they are joint-parenting, and this is less stressful for the kids. Children need both parents in their lives, as mothers and fathers play different roles. While mothers are more nurturing, fathers give children a sense of security and safety that helps them take challenges and explore new surroundings. It is important to keep in mind that joint-custody is not ideal for every family, but it can be advantageous for some.