With all of the recent legislative victories that support shared parenting as a legal standard in the United States, it is important to remember the equality that these types of decisions stand for.
These decisions mark the importance of both parents in the lives of their shared children and state that the legal presumption of custody is shared, giving both of them custodial rights and parenting time.
States like Kentucky have passed bills creating temporary joint custody and equal parenting time presumptions, and states like Florida, Kansas, Illinois and Michigan have discussed similar laws. These changes enable parents to become more active in their child’s life.
With these changes and this push to enable equal parenting time and custodial rights, it is important to remember the benefits of shared parenting.
1.Having both parents in a child’s life is objectively beneficial to the child
The idea that children benefit from having both parents in their life is not just a claim based on the emotions of parents. It is based on academic research and studies that have looked into the issues pertaining to child custody.
A comprehensive research study was published in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage that compiled 40 different studies that dealt with the benefits of shared parenting families. The studies all shared similar conclusions.
The study linked shared parenting to better outcomes for children of all ages across a wide range of academic, behavioral, emotional, and physical health measures. The study did not find any convincing evidence that overnighting or shared parenting was linked to negative outcomes for infants or toddlers.
The study also supported the new legislation, in linking domestic violence to negative outcomes, when it comes to shared parenting. This is why the signed and proposed legislation has all included contingencies in cases of neglect, domestic violence, abuse, or other forms of criminal activity.
Additional studies from Malin Bergstrom, a researcher at the Centre for Health Equity Studies, achieved similar findings in her study that was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
She found that children who lived with both of their separated parents reported significantly fewer problems than children who lived with only one parent.
2.Children do better in school through shared parenting
With all of struggles that children may go through during the divorce experience, school may take a backseat to the more personal issues. This idea to prioritize has been shown by studies to cause lowered academic achievement.
However, it is important to note the importance of the parent-child relationship, in relation to a student’s academic achievement. A study from the University of Missouri applied attachment theory and the importance of the parent-child relationship, to academic success and the academic struggles that a child may experience during a parental divorce.
The results highlighted the importance of early intervention by the parents and how support and communication between co-parents can play a vital role in combatting the negative effects of a parental divorce’s impact on a child’s academic achievement.
This requires the presence of both parents, whom the child already is attached to. They can provide the necessary assistance when needed and can compare behavioral notes with one another in the best interests of the child.
Through shared parenting, children are able to access both active parents who can provide the necessary guidance and support for a child during this challenging time.
3.Children who experience shared parenting are less stressed than children in sole custody situations
The stress of a parental divorce can be very detrimental to a child’s development. They can suffer physical, mental, and emotional setbacks during the challenging experience.
However, the stress of the experience does not have to define the family dynamic. While the parents may no longer be together, they still share the role of co-parents, and through shared parenting, they can limit the stress placed on their shared child.
According to a study from Stockholm University, children who live full time with one parent are more likely to feel stressed than children in shared custody situations.
“There has previously been a concern that shared physical custody could be an unstable living situation, that can lead to children becoming more stressed,” said Jani Turunen, researcher at Stockholm University and Centre for Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Health at Karlstad University. “But those who pointed to it earlier have built their concerns on theoretical assumptions, rather than empirical research.”
4.Shared parenting promotes both parents’ roles in a child’s life
A child needs to understand that they are not losing a parent, when their parents divorce. This may be something simple for an adult to grasp, but for them, it can be more challenging. They have so many questions during this process and can find themselves subjected to an ordeal that includes, lawyers, courts, judges, evaluators, mental health professionals, and so many other strangers that do not have a role in the child’s life.
Through a presumption of shared parenting, a child would not have to worry about dealing with so many strangers who are not a part of their every day life. While they may have to go from one home to another, their reality is that both locations still are homes. The child lives in both locations, and each parent has made a home for the child.
A child simply needs their parents, and while the child’s view of what a family can look like may have changed, it is not always a bad change. It is just different.
They still provide the love and guidance necessary for their comfort and development. While the parents’ marriage may not have worked, they still share an important role in their child’s life, and they need to be able to respect the other’s role in a child life. They need to understand what the other parent means to their child and respect that.
Through shared parenting, they are better equipped with adjusting to one another’s roles in this custodial dynamic.
Protecting and promoting your child’s well-being
Like outlined in most legislative endeavors, shared parenting does not apply to situations that threaten the well-being of the child. They do not apply to situations involving illegal activities, like abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or any other endeavor that promotes harm.
Shared parenting creates the necessary environment for both parents to maintain their role in a child’s life, and for that child to adjust to their new life situation to the best of their abilities.
If you feel that your child custody situation is not sufficient and does not promote your role in your child’s life, you need to contact your family law attorney and go through the proper legal channels, in order to cement your place in your child’s life.