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Is Shared Custody the Best Option for Kids After Divorce?

Given that Illinois law recently changed the way it approaches child custody matters, it is important to think about the ways in which the new law might be better for children. As you may know, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/) was revised so that the term of “child custody” no longer is used by courts. While the court still considers a family arrangement that is in the best interests of the child, instead of awarding child custody, it allocates parental responsibilities. Much of the new law is about semantics, and putting forward a position that suggests parental responsibilities are extremely important, and children may do better when they have shared time with both parents. Is shared parenting time what is best for kids after a divorce?

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Uppsala University’s Karolinska Institutet and CHESS research institute, equally shared parenting time may indeed be the best option for raising happy and healthy kids.

50-50 Shared Parenting Time, or Child Custody, Helps with Kids’ Behavioral Issues

The study looked at 3,656 children between the ages of 3-5 years old. In conducting the study, the researchers sought to come to a conclusion about whether shared parenting time—which would include switching between parents’ homes on a regular basis—could actually be detrimental to kids’ upbringings in the aftermath of separation or divorce, as some child psychologists have argued.

What did the researchers find? In short, they determined that 50-50 (or equal) shared parenting time results most often in kids who “show [fewer] behavioral problems and psychological symptoms than those living mostly or only with one of the parents.”

Comparing Behavioral Problems Among Young Children After Divorce

The researchers specifically assessed children’s behavioral problems and psychological symptoms to draw a conclusion about the value of shared parenting time, or joint custody. The makeup of the study looked like this: 136 kids were in nearly 50-50 shared parenting time situations, 79 lived mostly with one parent (with a small amount of time with the other parent), 72 lived solely with one parent, and 3,369 were living in intact family settings.

How did the researchers properly assess behavioral problems and psychological symptoms? They simply surveyed the kids’ parents and teachers through a questionnaire. They found that “both preschool teachers and parents indicated children living mostly or only with one parent [had] more difficulties than those living in joint physical custody or in nuclear families.” And how do kids in shared parenting situations compare with kids living in intact nuclear families? The study concluded that “there were no significant differences between children in nuclear families and joint physical custody.”

As such, we might see how the study supports some of the reasons for the child custody changes in Illinois law and the importance of shared parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Contact a Family Law Attorney in Chicago

Do you have questions about parenting time or parental responsibilities? An experienced Chicago family law attorney can speak with you today. Contact Arami Law for more information.

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