Is Joint Custody Right for You?

mother with joint custody holding daughter

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Joint custody can be one of the best child custody decisions for your family. 

In fact, the American Psychological Association found that children are more likely to be better adjusted in a joint custody arrangement than in a sole custody arrangement in most cases.

The study, published in 2002 found that “children from divorced families who either live with both parents at different times or spend certain amounts of time with each parent are better adjusted in most cases than children who live and interact with just one parent, according to new research on custody arrangements and children’s adjustment.”

Joint custody refers to situations where both parents bear responsibilities for their children, and for decision-making on behalf of their children. The children can live with both parents, though it is possible that they will primarily reside with one parent. 

In simple terms, if sole custody means one parent gets 100% control, then joint custody is a 50/50 split. 

The APA article goes on to explain that children in these split arrangements “had less behavior and emotional problems, had higher self-esteem, better family relations and school performance than children in sole custody arrangements. And these children were as well-adjusted as intact family children on the same measures, said [Psychologist Robert Bauserman, PhD], ‘probably because joint custody provides the child with an opportunity to have ongoing contact with both parents.’”

It makes sense that children who spend time with both of their parents have better mental health outcomes. 

“Joint custody couples reported less conflict, possibly because both parents could participate in their children’s lives equally and not spend the time arguing over childcare decisions. Unfortunately a perception exists that joint custody is more harmful because it exposes children to ongoing parental conflict. In fact, the studies in this review found that sole-custody parents reported higher levels of conflict.”

That’s not to say that single parents can’t do just as good of a job. In many cases of divorce, sole custody is the only option, especially if there is abuse or violence in the home.

So, is joint custody right for you?

If you and your spouse can come to agreements through healthy discussion, and you both can consistently do so for years to come, then yes, it may be right for you.

Similarly, if both you and your spouse can prioritize your children in decisions about your divorce agreement, joint custody may be right for you. 

The only way to know for sure is to contact an experienced divorce attorney or mediator. The family lawyers at Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group can help you determine the best route forward for your child custody agreement. Give us a call or fill out our contact form to get started. 

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