Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Shared parenting may be advantageous to children of divorce

When parents go through a divorce, the children must be made a priority no matter how stressful things get. A large part of a Utah divorce agreement will have to do with determining who gets physical custody of the children and how much parenting time the other parent will receive. In the past, courts favored mothers to be the primary caretakers of the children, but nowadays joint physical custody is strongly encouraged so that both parents play an equal role in their children's upbringing.

Studies have shown there are countless benefits to shared parenting, even if it may be difficult for the parents to deal with their ex-spouses. A number of studies on custody have revealed that children who spend at least 35 percent of their time with each parent are better off than children who live primarily with one parent and visit the other. Even if the parents live apart from each other, it is important that both parents are engaged in decision-making and everyday tasks involving the children.

Generally, children in joint custody arrangements get better grades, are less likely to get into drugs and alcohol, and are less likely to suffer from depression.

While the support for joint custody has increased over the past few years, there are still some critics who attribute the success of these children to the parents getting along and having more money, not the equal time spent with each parent. Therefore, if one parent is against shared custody, the children will not benefit from that arrangement. Some researchers disagree, saying that even if one parent initially disagreed with the arrangement and did not get along with the other parent, the children still benefit from joint custody. Overall, it appears that children have stronger relationships with each parent in joint custody arrangements, which benefits them in every aspect of their lives.

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

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