Does Shared Custody Make Happier Children?


Sorting out child arrangements can be stressful, especially at the time of a split. Knowing which kind of arrangement will be the least stressful for your child will help to not only improve their relationship with you, but the other parent as well.

Sad Children

The UK is Behind with Joint Custody

Recent research conducted in Sweden looked at the living arrangements of children on separation or divorce of their parents. Jenine Abdo, our Cardiff based Family Law Solicitor believes, "Shared parenting is an idea and ethos predominately used within Europe and the US. Although it is an option more parents are pursuing, the UK is still lagging behind other countries."

Sweden in particular had a joint custody rate of 40% in 2010. For a long time, the lack of stability children face splitting their time between two parents has raised questions about whether or not it's best for the child.

But, what are the facts?

The study looked at local data from around 150,000 children, 12 and 15 year olds and analysed their psychosomatic symptoms in relation to their living arrangements – symptoms that affect the mind and body. Psychosomatic symptoms include things such as insomnia, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches and stomach aches.

Their living arrangements included those children living mostly with one parent to only with one parent following separation or divorce, those alternating between parents who had joint custody and those living with both parents as part of a nuclear family.

Main Points from the Study

Three findings were made clear from the survey, and every parent going through a split should take note:

  • Girls displayed more psychosomatic symptoms than boys – although the study recognised that girls were more likely to report them than boys
  • Those living with one parent had the most psychosomatic problems
  • Sleep problems such as insomnia were the most common with children overall

Based on this survey, it's safe to say that when splitting from your partner, the best course of action would be to propose joint custody if it's within your child's best interests.

On the best interests of the child, Jenine said "These statistics demonstrate that the children are the ones who ultimately suffer negatively if they are unable to spend quality time with their respective parents. For separated parents to share the parenting, it must be reasonable and practical for all involved."

"Ultimately as the Children Act 1989 states, the child’s welfare is paramount and the children's interests should be at the heart of the decisions made by all parents who separate when residence/contact issues are being resolved. For those who may want to seek a shared parenting plan, you can do so via mediation, negotiation or an application made to the Court."

Working on a plan with a family law solicitor to make sure they can spend their time equally between parents and maintain a healthy relationship with both sides will help to put their mind at ease.

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