Study: Children of Divorce in Shared Custody Less Stressed

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | May 04, 2015 | 0 Comments

Getting a divorce will undoubtedly impact minor children of the couple. There will certainly be a level of stress for the children, regardless of how things turn out for the couple, but, according to a recent study reported by CBS News, there are ways to alleviate some of this stress.

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One of the major arguments in child custody matters is who should have primary physical custody and what degree of visitation is acceptable. The parties sometimes agree on all matters, and sometimes they fight over every detail, from who can pick the children up after school and take them home, to who is allowed to give Christmas presents to the children before the other parent. While it is easy to think you would never fight over such seemingly small points, you would be surprised how emotional the process can become and what people actually end up arguing about.

According to this new study, performed by Center for Health Equity, children of divorced couples who spend time living in both parents' homes tend to have less stress resulting from their parent's divorce than children in cases where sole physical custody is awarded to one parent, leaving the other parent with visitation only.

While it may be hard to quantify an amount of stress children experience through a survey, researchers have focused on psychosomatic symptoms in children that doctors traditionally associate with being under stress. These results may seem counter-intuitive, as it is generally believed a child will do better living in a single household without moving around all the time. These results are very much in contrast to well-accepted ideas.

It should be noted, this particular study was conducted outside of the United States and involved research of 150,000 children of divorce ranging in ages from 12 to 15. The psychosomatic symptoms observed in the study included sleep disorders, loss of concentration, loss of appetite, stomach aches, headaches, and physical feelings of tension. Among this group of research subjects, just under 70 percent of children lived in traditional two-parent households, around 20 percent of children lived with both parents at alternating times, and the remaining children lived solely with one parent.

While it makes sense children living with both parents who were still married suffered the fewest psychosomatic symptoms, children of divorced parents who lived with each parent part-time were significantly less stressed than children of divorced households living exclusively with one parent.

As our Birmingham child custody attorneys can explain, there may not be a simple answer to this question, but creating a situation where children know both parties will still be a parent who is involved in their lives following a divorce is often the best resolution to an already unpleasant situation.

However, in order to make a resolution favorable to the mental well being of the children, it will take a considerable amount of cooperation between both parties, and this may mean coming to an agreement short of trial, if at all possible. On the other hand, as we have seen in many cases, this is not always possible, as one parent truly isn't capable of providing adequate care to the children. If this is the case in your divorce, you will need an attorney who will fight for what you know is the children's best interest, even if your soon-to-be ex-spouse will oppose you during the proceeding.

Additional Resources:

Study: Children of Divorce Undergo Less Stress Living With Both Parents, April 28, 2015, CBS News

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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