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Joint custody shows lower stress for children

Divorce places a strain on children. Of course, divorce places a strain and creates stress for everyone involved. The dismantling of a single household, even if it is deeply dysfunctional, is disturbing. Patterns of life are forced to change, from how much money is available to pay bills and cover other expenses to moving out of the family home and selling it because neither party can afford the expense as a single-parent.

But child custody issues can be the most challenging, because no two children are exactly the same and no two families are the same, even if two families implement virtually identical parenting plans and custody arrangements, the results can be very different. 

Child custody arrangements are governed by the "best interests of the child" standard in Georgia, but the difficult issue is always determining just what is meant by "best interests." Reducing child stress is an important, if sometimes unstated, goal. So developing a parenting plan consistent with that goal is important.

A new study suggests that keeping both parents involved, even if it necessitates weekly movement of the children produces the lowest levels of stress in the children. Of course, if there is any child abuse or domestic violence, joint custody may not be appropriate.

The study did not examine if this is because parents in that environment work together better and have a more functional relationship, and the researchers recommend more work be done on determining what factors in the custody arrangement drove the stress children felt.

Time.com, "This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most," Mandy Oaklander, April 27, 2015

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