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Why shared custody may be in the best interest of your child

One of the first things parents think about when they decide to seek a divorce is how it will affect the kids. While the discussion of what the best custody arrangement is for the child's overall well-being has long been a matter of debate, it's only recently that researchers have begun to feel confident that shared custody is best.

Historically speaking, mothers have often been the parent awarded primary physical custody of a child. Even nowadays, 80 percent of all custody cases end up with the mother being awarded full custody of the child.

An educational psychology professor at Wake Forest University recently published a study in the Psychology, Public Policy, and Law Journal. She suggests that when judges rule in favor of mothers, it is not always in the best interest of the child. Instead, the professor notes that custody should be relegated to just one parent in cases in which it can be proven that the other has a history of negligence or abuse.

As for why she believes judges have continued to rule in favor of moms in custody disputes over the years, the professor says that she believes it has to do with judges being concerned that parents fighting over custody will cause undue stress on the child.

For her most recent study, though, the professor re-examined this perception. She found that kids appeared to be more impacted by how solid their relationships were with their own parents as opposed to how well their parents got along with each other.

Given her findings, the professor, who has been studying family dynamics for close to 25 years, notes that family law courts could greatly benefit from finding ways to help strengthen parent-child bonds. She argues that this begins with courts leaving behind the notion that parents jointly sharing physical custody of a child will create conflict and not be in the best interest of the child.

She notes that with the kids she's studied, the ones that are part of shared custody agreements seem to excel academically, be at less risk of becoming pregnant as teens or develop substance abuse problems.

If you and your ex are having difficulty deciding how to split time with your kids, you may benefit from discussing potential legal remedies available that can help with a Naples child custody attorney.

Source: The Columbian, "New research supports sharing child custody," Gail Rosenblum, Sep. 13, 2017

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