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How shared parenting may help children after divorce

Parents in San Jose who are getting a divorce may wonder what the best custody arrangement for their children might be. Studies show that children are less likely to smoke or use alcohol and drugs when they are in a joint custody situation. They are also less likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and stress, and they do better in school as well as socially. Joint custody in this situation is defined as children spending more than 35 percent of their time with each parent.

This represents a shift from the 1970s when a divorce could mean that a father had very limited contact with children. Even today, some courts may favor primary custody for the mother for the first few years of a child's life. Furthermore, some critics argue that joint custody only works if both parents are on board with the idea and that positive outcomes from joint custody are linked more to a higher parental income than to the parenting arrangement.

However, when a psychology professor examined the data, she found that neither of these arguments were true. In fact, children benefited from joint custody even in high-conflict situations. Furthermore, parental income and the success of joint custody situations did not appear to be linked.

Negotiating child custody may be particularly difficult when there is a good deal of conflict in a divorce. Litigation may be necessary if parents cannot reach an agreement. However, if one parent appears unwilling to cooperate with the other during the child custody hearing, this could make an unfavorable impression on the judge. If there have been serious issues in the family, such as domestic abuse, a parent should provide documentation. An attorney may be able to discuss the best strategy with the parent depending on the circumstances.

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