After divorce, shared custody found to be less stressful for kids

A new study found that children whose parents split physical custody were less stressed than children who lived primarily with one parent.

Divorce can be brutal on children, and when it comes to custody arrangements, the common thought has been to disrupt the children’s life as little as possible by keeping them in one home. But now, a new study has examined the stresses faced by children with separated parents and how they were affected by shared physical custody. The results found that children whose parents split physical custody were less stressed than children who lived primarily with one parent.

The study from Stockholm University found that children whose parents have sole custody experience stress symptoms more frequently than children whose parents split the demands of child raising equally.

The stress could be related to many different things, such as losing contact with family members, feeling displaced from their normal environment, and being concerned about the parent they don’t spend as much time with.

The researchers even found that in households where parents don’t get along but still have shared physical custody, children fare better.

Jani Turunen, a post-doctoral researcher from Stockholm University and a collaborator on the study, said the research addresses concerns that children who move between parents might be subject to more unstable living conditions.

But Turunen suggests the opposite is true, that shared physical custody has a much more positive effect on a child’s well-being.

“The relationship between the child and both of its parents becomes stronger, the child finds the relationship to be better and the parents can both exercise more active parenting,” said Turunen.

The study gathered data from just over 800 children who were asked about their living conditions and any stress they feel related to their parents. The parents of the children participating in the study were also asked about their relationship with their divorced or separated partner.  

The results show that shared physical custody and co-parenting creates a much healthier environment for children as it continues the bond with both parents equally.

By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer