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Is shared child custody a better solution for kids?

Texas parents who are trying to find the best possible division of parenting responsibilities are facing a real challenge. Social science, despite a plethora of studies on the topic, has yet to present a hard-and-fast rule when it comes to which type of child custody structures are best for children. In fact, studies routinely come out on all sides of the matter, leaving parents with little guidance in creating a custody plan that is best for their family.

For example, a recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health asserts that children whose parents divorce and then raise their children in a system of shared custody fare better than those who live within a more traditional every-other-weekend visitation setting. This goes against other recent research that claims that shared custody is stressful to children. Because of conflicting studies, courts have struggled to find the best custody arrangements.

In the recent study, researchers found that children who split time evenly between the households of both parents reported lower levels of psychosomatic health problems. These issues include trouble sleeping, headaches, stomach aches, loss of appetite and anxiety, among other ill effects. While kids who lived in intact nuclear families exhibited the lowest levels of psychosomatic problems, kids who shared time with both parents seemed to fare better than those who lived primarily with one parent.

These findings should be considered as part of the larger body of social science concerning child custody structures, and Texas parents should avoid shaping a custody plan around any one study. Instead, the best way to create a healthy shared parenting arrangement is to make an honest assessment of the family's resources, and determine a custody schedule that gives the children the support and attention that they need to thrive. Just as no two families are ever exactly alike, parents should never expect any two child custody agreements to be identical.

Source: TIME, "This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most", Mandy Oaklander, April 27, 2015

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