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Studies show shared parenting may benefit children post-divorce

These days it may seem like it is the norm for both mothers and fathers in Phoenix to share custody of their child post-divorce and for fathers to enjoy a certain amount of overnight time with their child. However, this was not always the case.

Forty years ago, when parents divorced it was often assumed that the mother would be awarded sole child custody, meaning that many fathers were lucky to even get regular visitation. However, much has changed since then. Studies performed since then reported that, for the most part, both children and their fathers wanted and even needed to spend more time with one another. Thus came the rise of shared parenting, in which each parent was a part of the child's life and shared responsibility for raising the child.

By the end of the 1990s, fathers were often granted visitation with their child, perhaps every other weekend. However, these visits, while fun, did not always provide the parties with a meaningful parent-child relationship. In fact, further studies of parents who share joint physical custody of their child, meaning the child lives with their mother or father for 35 percent of the time, revealed that children in these situations develop a stronger bond with each parent, do better in school, have better connections with other people in their lives, and do better mentally.

However, some professionals believe that the benefit of shared parenting comes because in such arrangements, parents often do better financially and have a better relationship with one another. They also claim that if either the mother or father is not on board with shared custody, it may not be the best choice. Moreover, some professionals also believe that mothers are better suited to take care of very young children. Unfortunately, this belief is not always accurate as more fathers are playing an important role in their child's lives. Fathers can have just a significant impact on an infant or toddler's development as mothers can.

With all that in mind, according to some professionals, shared parenting may be the best choice for many families, and restricting the amount of time a father spends with his or her child to daytime visitations only does not help to develop a strong parent-child relationship. While no two families are the same, for many, shared parenting post-divorce benefits all parties involved, giving the child the best chance to develop a meaningful relationship with each parent.

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

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