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Shared parenting better for kids, researchers say

Georgia parents who are contemplating a divorce may be interested to learn about a study that was recently conducted in Sweden. In the study, researchers looked at stress levels in children who were in shared parenting custodial arrangements versus those who primarily resided with one divorced parent while having infrequent visits with the other.

Researchers evaluated data from 150,000 12- and 15-year old children who either lived with both parents as part of a nuclear family, in shared parenting custodial arrangements or primarily with one divorced parent. When they compared those different types of arrangements with the children's self-reported psychosomatic illness levels, they found that the group having the highest stress level were those in the group that primarily resided with only one parent.

Children who were in the shared parenting group showed better stress levels than those in the traditional custody group. Not surprisingly, the children who lived with both parents in a nuclear home fared best and had the lowest reported psychosomatic illness rates. The research results demonstrates that giving one parent primary residential custody with the other only having every other weekend may not be the best type of custody for children. Traditionally, popular thought has been that shared parenting, in which a child goes back and forth between two parents' homes, would be more stressful on children, but apparently it may be better.

In every child custody and divorce case, the child's best interests should always be the parents' primary consideration. They may want to consider whether shared parenting would be right for their family. If they believe it would, they may then want to try to secure an agreement to have that type of arrangement in place. It is not always the best choice, however, and it may be inappropriate in cases involving domestic violence or substance abuse issues.

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