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New Research Indicates Co-Parenting is Best for Children


The toughest aspect of divorce for parents is deciding what is best for your children.

Should you share custody? Or should one parent be the primary custodian, while the other enjoys substantial parenting time? The answer depends upon your particular situation and family. However, new research demonstrates why co-parenting may be the best option.

Shared vs. sole parenting arrangements

Professor Linda Nielsen reviewed 60 studies that analyzed whether shared parenting or sole parenting is better for children in a paper published in the Journal of Child Custody. She concluded that co-parenting generally produced better outcomes in children.

The studies Nielsen reviewed measured outcomes in regards to the children’s behavioral, emotional, physical, and academic wellbeing and their relationships with parents and grandparents. Thirty-four studies determined that joint physical custody was linked to better outcomes than sole physical custody on all these measures. Fourteen studies found that joint physical custody children ranked better or equal on all measures. Six studies reached the conclusion that joint physical custody led to better or equal outcomes in all but one measure. Six studies showed children fared better under a sole physical custody arrangement in all but one measure.

Twenty-five studies considered family income. Eighteen studies found joint physical custody to be better in all measures. In four studies, the joint physical custody children fared better or equal in all measures and, in one study, the children from both arrangements had equal outcomes. The children in two studies did worse on one measure, but equal or better on all others.

Nineteen studies also looked at parental conflict. Importantly, joint physical custody was linked to better outcomes in nine studies, ranged from equal to better in five studies, and was equal on all measures in two studies. Only in three studies did the children have worse outcomes in just one of the measures, while still having better or equal outcomes on the others.

What do these study outcomes mean?

Joint physical custody gives children the opportunity to spend at least 35 percent of their time with each parent. This arrangement encourages children to form a stronger relationship with both parents, a situation that appears to promote well-being.

According to these studies, co-parenting conveys substantial benefits on children. Furthermore, financial difficulties and parental strife may impact children, but these conditions do not generally diminish the value of co-parenting. The value of the parent-child bond wins over monetary and family conflict factors.

Learn more about co-parenting as an option for California child custody arrangements

Should you consider co-parenting for your children? Discuss this option with Fresno and San Diego child custody attorney Rebecca Medina, who can explain the legalities, advantages, and potential pitfalls of a joint physical custody arrangement.

Rebecca MedinaAbout the Author: Rebecca Medina

Rebecca Medina is an experienced Family Law attorney, mediator and Collaborative Divorce Lawyer serving the Fresno and San Diego areas. She handles cases ranging from complex divorce matters to child custody, spousal support, prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, QDROs and uncontested divorce cases. She was rated “Clients’ Choice” by Avvo.

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