Heymann & Fletcher

Research shows benefits from strong relationship with children

When a New Jersey family goes through a divorce, things can be tumultuous for a period of time. Parents can have an especially challenging time as they move through the process of negotiating a child custody structure. No loving parent wants to lose time with his or her child, and that concern often forms the basis of contention between parents. A growing body of research supports the idea that shared custody is the best way to preserve a strong parental relationship with children. That outcome is good for kids, and is also beneficial to both parents.

In one recent study, shared custody is defined by a structure under which children spend at least 35 percent of their time with each parent. That is markedly different from the "traditional" approach to child custody, where the kids live primarily with one parent, while the other receives visitation rights. That arrangement creates a new type of relationship with the departing parent, in which he or she becomes more of an occasional visitor in the life of the children rather than a full parent.

According to research, kids who spend a considerable amount of time with both parents are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, including smoking, drinking and drug use. They are also less susceptible to depression, anxiety and unhealthy levels of stress. Interestingly, kids who spend time with both parents also seem to have better relationships with both, as compared to those who live solely with one parent.

Shared custody is a good fit for many New Jersey families, but it should be noted that not every family will be able or willing to accommodate such an arrangement. In cases where it is not possible for the departing parent to take on a greater volume of parenting responsibilities, efforts should be made to preserve the relationship with children through other means, such as regular phone calls, video calls and longer visits during the summer or school vacations. Fortunately, families are able to construct a child custody arrangement that suits their particular set of needs.

Source: statnews.com, "After divorce, shared parenting is best for children's health, development", Richard A. Warshak, May 26, 2017

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