It is believed by some child experts that children in New Jersey and elsewhere experience increased stress when they live with both parents in a shared custody arrangement after a divorce. However, research recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health suggests that this may not be the case. Instead, children may actually benefit from spending time living with both of their parents. The research involved 150,000 12-year-old and 15-year-old children in Sweden.
Of the children who were a part of the study, 69 percent of them lived at home as part of a nuclear family. Another 19 percent shared their time with both divorced parents while 13 percent lived with only one parent. The children who lived in a household with two parents showed the fewest instances of disrupted sleep, stomach aches and general apprehension. However, those who spent time with both divorced parents showed fewer problems than those who lived with only one parent after the divorce.
A leading explanation of the findings had to do with parental engagement. Parents who see their children every other weekend or on a similar schedule may have a hard time being a meaningful part of the child’s life. Conversely, the child is exposed to additional emotional and financial resources when both parents play an active role in the child’s life. Currently, it is believed that less than 20 percent of children whose parents have divorced are in a joint custody arrangement.
A divorced parent who wants increased custody or visitation may wish to talk to an attorney. An attorney may be able to help a parent show the court that increased custody is in the child’s best interest. In many cases, the court assumes that co-parenting helps the child and reduces the burden on public assistance programs. Therefore, a request may be granted even if the other parent may object to it.