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New study reveals joint custody may be beneficial to kids

Most parents in Rhode Island who are going through a divorce want to do what is best for their children. Traditionally, getting a divorce meant one parent would have sole physical custody and the other parent would have visitation. However, a new study has revealed that joint physical custody arrangements may have some benefits.

The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health recently published a study regarding the emotional health of children in various types of child custody settings. The results of the study may surprise some. According to the study, children who spend some time in the home of each of their parents after a divorce may do better than those who are in the sole custody of one parent.

Some experts historically have believed that shared custody arrangements cause children to experience more stress as they move back and forth between households. However, this study examined 150,000 children ages 12 and 15 and noted any health problems the children experienced, such as the child's ability to concentrate, problems with the child's appetite or sleep patterns and other physical symptoms such as headaches, upset stomachs or dizziness. 19 percent of the children studied resided with each of their parents separately for various amounts of time and 13 percent resided solely with one parent. The study found that the children that resided with each parent separately for some of the time experienced fewer problems than those who resided solely with one parent.

One of the reasons that this may be is that having frequent contact with each parent helps a child deal with the stress of a divorce, allowing each parent to be play a supportive role in the child's daily life. In addition, if a child has two households, they have double the amount of material goods, family members and social networks to help them cope with stress.

A parent's divorce can have a major effect on a child's emotional health. It is important not to enter into any decisions hastily or for the wrong reasons, such as getting back at an ex-spouse. Joint custody arrangements may require more cooperation between parents in Rhode Island, but for some, they may be in the best interests of the child.

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

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