Birmingham AL Collaborative Divorce Law Blog

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sharing the Love: New Study Explores Benefits of Joint Custody

The kids are back in school, and for divorced parents who share custody, the juggling act has begun again. Shuttling children back and forth between two households can be disruptive and time consuming. It may also require interaction with your ex on a weekly or even daily basis, which, depending upon your relationship, may be stressful. But new evidence indicates joint custody may be worth the hassle when it comes to your kids’ well-being.

According to research compiled by Dr. Linda Nielsen, professor at Wake Forest University, for a child of divorce “the quality of your relationship with your parents matters a whole lot more than the parents’ relationship with each other.” Nielsen examined 44 published studies on divorce conflict and its impact and children and published the results in the May, 2017 issue of the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Psychology, Public Policy and Law.

“Conflict, co-parenting, and the quality of the children’s relationships with each parent are all connected to children’s well-being,” Nielsen says. “This is not an ‘either–or’ issue that ignores the role that parental conflict or co-parenting play in children’s lives. Still, the data strongly supports the idea that the quality of the parent–child relationship is the best predictor of future outcomes for the children.”

Can you help your child have meaningful relationships with you and your ex?, a service of Harvard Health, offers these tips for how to pave the way to better post-divorce relationships:

  1. Set aside hurt and anger. Don’t say negative things about your ex to the children, or make them feel like they have to choose sides.
  2. Establish a business-like tone. When interacting with your ex, consider him or her as a colleague with a mutual goal: raising happy, healthy kids. Speak with cordiality, respect and neutrality.
  3. Focus on your kids’ needs. Try to keep your own wants and desires out of the discussion.
  4. Aim for consistency. Establish a set of rules — including disciplinary consequences, bedtime schedules, chores and other expectations— that can be upheld at both homes.
  5. Ease transitions between homes. Stick to the agreed upon schedule as much as possible and keep kids informed of any changes. Be sensitive. Remember “every reunion with one parent is also a separation with the other.”

Even though joint custody can be stressful, when both parents are dedicated to putting their children first, the juggling act becomes easier. For more helpful tips for divorced parents, emotional tool kits and more, check out


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