Currently Browsing: Family Law

The Optimal Child Custody Agreement

An article published by Romper details new research conducted in Sweden about the best arrangement for child custody agreements. While divorce is often painful and rarely an easy transition, the new study suggests that complete joint custody is the best option for children following a split. Of course, this setup is not sustainable or practical for all couples, but allowing your child to maintain an active relationship with both parents turned out to be extremely important for their mental health.

Of the subjects used in the study, 3,369 were children in nuclear families, 79 lived primarily with one parent, 72 lived exclusively with one parent, and 136 were in a joint physical custody arrangement. The researchers then surveyed parents and teachers about the behavior of the children. In particular, the adult participants completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), a popular screening test used to measure emotional symptoms; conduct and peer relationship problems; and inattention. The results indicated no significant difference in SDQ scores between children in joint physical custody and those in a nuclear family, although the children in a nuclear family performed slightly better on average. Children in the custody of a single parent or mostly in the custody of a single parent showed more behavioral issues and emotional symptoms.

The results of the study are hardly surprising. Past research suggests that children fare better emotionally when they have a stronger relationship with both parents. When both parents are active in their child’s life, it leads to less stress for the child on average. Less stress, in turn, leads to fewer emotional problems and behavioral issues. Therefore, splitting time between parents and spending about an equal amount of time with both parents has some benefits.

However, the study is not without shortcomings. For one, researchers at Uppsala University, Karolinska Institutet, and the Centre for Health Equity Studies conducted the study. These are Swedish organizations, so the outcome of the study may not hold across cultures. While the results seemed clear for Swedish children, it is possible that the results are different for Americans. Second, the subjects in the study were very young children ranging from 3 to 5 years of age. Developmental changes are dramatic at that age, so what is true for a 3-year-old may not end up being true for an 8-year-old. Although it is certainly positive to decrease stress for your child, how that occurs can be complicated, and joint physical custody may not be an option for families.

According to the attorneys at https://www.bestafkalaw.com, the health of a child can be at stake in child custody proceedings, so it’s best to hire an attorney to keep proceedings short and amicable. With this new study, it may become easier for parents to agree that sharing custody of their child is the healthiest option for everyone involved—especially their child. Of course, as with all things, the study is a little flawed, but I think this is a great first step toward a future where fewer children “suffer” through a divorce, and merely experience one.