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Shared child custody recommended by some researchers

In Arizona, child custody is often a strongly disputed issue in a divorce. However, recent research shows that shared custody or equal parental access benefits the children of divorced parents.

Mothers are frequently awarded fully physical custody of children in this country. Long-lasting concerns over the impact of conflict among divorcing parents upon the children has led to this outcome.

However, this latest research shows that the impact of these disputes may be inflated. Many times, parents exaggerate conflict as a strategy to obtain full custody.

Divorce disputes should not always determine custody. A custody dispute recedes over time, but the custody decisions can last throughout childhood.

It was found that the quality of the relationship that the children have with their parents is more important the type of relationship their parents have with each other. The best interests of the children, the underlying basis of custody decisions, is furthered with programs and policies that improve the children's relationship with each parent.

Children in shared custody arrangements, where the children live with each parent at least 35 percent of the time, fare better in several measures. These include fewer teen pregnancies, lower drug use and having more optimism about the future.

Parents can also diminish the impact of parental conflict. They should speak to their children about relationships, grades, their self-image and other sensitive subjects. When necessary, discipline and supervision should be imposed and rules should be set and enforced.

Parents should regularly interact with their children and not limit their relationships to fun activities. Cooking, yard work and other skills should be taught to children.

Children should not be involved with adult matters, especially those involving their other parent. Most of all, they should always feel loved.

Source: Grand Haven Tribune, "New research supports shared custody for children in divorce," Gail Rosenblum, Sept. 7, 2017

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