Study suggests that time with both parents is best for children

A study showed that children tend to fare better when they can spend regular time with both parents after a divorce.

With the difficult emotions and complicated disputes that often follow the end of a marriage, divorce often brings emotional costs. It is especially sad when children, the most innocent ones involved, have to watch their parents fight and split up. Suddenly having to live in two separate households instead of one may also be traumatic. Texas parents may wonder which type of parenting arrangement is best for the children.

Shared custody may be better

A study on the effects of custody arrangements was recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, reported Time magazine. Nearly 150,000 children, ages 12 and 15, were studied. Out of these, 69 percent lived with both parents, 19 percent had parents who shared custody and 13 percent lived with just one parent. Researchers took into account such issues as concentration problems, sleep issues, stomachaches, loss of appetite, headaches and negative emotions. It was discovered that the children who spent time with both parents had significantly fewer emotional and physical problems than those who lived with only one parent.

The study seemed to contradict the views of many child experts who believe joint custody is more harmful to children than beneficial. They believe that constantly moving from one household to another puts more stress on children than staying in one place. In fact, many children benefit from having two households, and look forward to seeing the other parent.

Making shared custody easier

How can parents make the most out of joint custody after the end of a marriage? The following suggestions are provided by Parents magazine:

• Parents should never speak badly of the other parent within hearing distance of the children. Children's love of both parents should be respected and encouraged without making them feel like they have to take sides.

• Each parent should take into account his and her own commitments and schedule when negotiating a parenting plan, rather than trying to get the most time with the children possible without considering how that time will be spent.

• The children's ages, needs and activities should also be considered. Parenting arrangements may be updated as children grow and their needs change.

• Parents should attempt to communicate well with each other, rather than let negative feelings get in the way of their parenting.

Above all, children should know that their own feelings and concerns are important and valued.

In some instances, such as cases of abuse, when one parent moves away, or when a parent's work schedule takes up too much time, it may not be possible to share custody. The family's individual situation should be taken into account during the divorce process. An experienced family law attorney should be able to help parents find the best custody arrangement for their circumstances.