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Joint custody may relieve stress in children

Accounting for the needs and best interests of children during divorce proceedings can be an involved process. Often times, parents have conflicting ideas about what type of child custody arrangement is right for their family. Establishing primary custody is the most appropriate option in some cases, but an increasing number of Illinois families are finding that joint custody suits their needs the best.

Many parents and child development experts believe that scenarios involving joint custody place a greater deal of stress on children than situations where one parent maintains primary custody. The assumption is that continually transitioning from one household to the other prevents kids from settling in and feeling at home in either environment. It may be for that reason that joint custody is only established in less than 20 percent of divorce cases in the U.S. New evidence suggests, however, that children in joint custody arrangements may actually experience lower levels of stress.

A recent study investigated stress levels in around 150,000 children, ages 12 and 15. Psychosomatic health issues like loss of appetite, concentration and headaches were monitored as symptoms of stress. Approximately 13 percent of kids involved in the study lived with one parent, almost 20 percent were in joint custody arrangements and almost 70 percent lived with both parents full-time. According to the study results, the children in primary custody arrangements experienced a larger number of stress-related symptoms than those who spent equal amounts of time with each of their parents.

Proponents of joint custody point to the new study as evidence that it is usually the best interests of children to give them equal access to both parents. In fact, they argue that establishing equal parenting time often doubles the financial and social resources that kids benefit from.

Source: Time, “This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most,” Mandy Oaklander, April 27, 2015

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