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Joint child custody benefits far outweigh negatives in most cases

Despite the great strides that have been made towards gender equality in parenting, the fact remains that, over 80 percent of the time, mothers are awarded full physical custody in court ordered cases. A large reason for this seems to be the decades-long belief that conflict between divorced parents places too much stress on children. However, recent studies have demonstrated again and again that joint child custody with near-equal parenting time is far and away the best option in most situations.

Obviously, there are exceptions, like when children need protection from a negligent or abusive parent. Barring these, however, experts are advocating shared parenting as the new assumed default for divorcing Massachusetts couples. Opponents argue that placing children in the middle of disagreements exposes them to high levels of conflict, but researchers disagree as to the degree of the negative effects.

One professor feels that the role of conflict has been greatly exaggerated, both in terms of frequency and of negative lasting effects. While divorce conflict generally dies down within the first few years following the end of the marriage, custody decisions typically last throughout childhood until the minor reaches the age of 18. This means that children are often denied a stable, strong relationship with both father and mother simply because the parents had trouble getting along immediately after divorce.

The researcher stresses that the quality of a child's relationship with each parent, both mother and father, is one of the most important factors in that child's well-being. As evidence, she points to findings indicating that children in shared child custody arrangements with equal parenting time do measurably better on all fronts, from academics to drug resistance to avoiding teen pregnancies and more. For any divorcing Massachusetts parent concerned with figuring out a custody agreement that works best for everyone involved -- but especially children -- a family law attorney with experience in custody cases can offer guidance and support.

Source:, "New research supports shared custody for children in divorce", Gail Rosenblum, Sep. 10, 2017

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