Melinda L. Singer, Esquire
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New studies show co-parenting best for children

Many New Jersey families understand the difficulty of trying to split their children's time between parents who are going through a divorce. Not only is it hard for the children, who are going through stress and change to their family structure, it is difficult for the parents who love and support their kids and may be feeling lonely. But new studies show that parents sharing custody results in the best outcomes for their children.

As the Boston Herald reports, a new study out of Wake Forest University re-examined studies that focused on the role conflict plays on children of divorce. Traditionally, a custodial parent, which is the mother in 80 percent of divorce cases, is determined by the court to be the main parent in an effort to reduce the conflict a child will be party to when his or her parents divorce. Yet the study did not find that conflict between parents played a large part in determining outcomes of the child. In fact, the relationship between the part and child was the single-most important factor, and children who had strong relationships with both parents fared best. The researcher noted that even in an acrimonious divorce, the bitterness often fades in a few years, but the custody arrangement of the child rarely changes.

According to Science Daily, a study from Sweden of preschoolers whose parents had joint custody had similar results. More than 3,600 children between the ages of 3 and 5 were less likely to have psychological problems or behavioral issues if their parents had shared custody. While many believe that stability in the living situation is of primary concern, this study showed that the relationship with both parents was more important to the children's outcome.

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