Children in California who go back and forth between their parents' houses may not be too stressed out by the arrangement, according to a new study. Researchers in Sweden, where 40 percent of divorced parents have joint-custody arrangements, say that children who regularly see both parents after a divorce report fewer psychosomatic health problems.
In the recent study, researchers from the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Stockholm, Sweden, analyzed national data about children of married and divorced parents. During their research, authors of the study discovered that children who lived with only one parent had significantly more headaches, sleep problems, feelings of dizziness and other psychosomatic problems than children who went back and forth between two parents who were divorced. Children who lived with married parents had the least amount of these problems.
The lead author of the study said that children of divorced parents experience less stress when they continue having regular contact with both of their parents. Despite a popular belief that constantly moving around might stress kids out, the study showed that the absence of one parent was more stressful. Despite the benefits, joint custody is much less common in the U.S. than it is in Sweden. According to the executive director of the National Parents Organization, less than 20 percent of divorced parents in the U.S. share custody.
A parent who would like to set up a joint child custody arrangement after a divorce may want to have representation from an attorney. An attorney may be able to argue that joint custody is in the best interest of the child by referencing peer-reviewed studies on the subject of shared custody and presenting testimony from people who are familiar with the family dynamic.