Going through a divorce is an overwhelming process, especially when there are children involved. Children are often unwilling participants of a marital separation. It can be extremely difficult for children to transition from a traditional family situation to a living arrangement where they are primarily with one parent. In many divorce cases, one parent is generally awarded sole-physical custody and the other parent is granted visitation rights. Yet studies show that joint custody situations may be best for children.

The study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, looked at children placed in traditional family homes, joint-custody situations and sole-custody living arrangements. Researchers looked at many aspects of the childrens’ development, both short term and long term. They found that children who lived in joint-custody situations presented the following in comparison to those living in sole-custody arrangements:

  • Fewer emotional issues
  • Better behavior
  • Strong family relationships
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Better grades in school

Over a longer period of time, kids raised in joint-custody situations went on to achieve higher levels of academic degrees, enjoyed longer lasting marriages, had stronger social support groups and had a better overall feeling of self.

Both moms and dads affect children differently. When kids spend a significant amount of time with both, they are able to reap the benefits that each parent gives. For example, mothers provide a safe and nurturing environment, which fathers tend to challenge kids to explore their environments and take risks. All of these combine to help children achieve their very best.

Even when children are raised in sole-custody arrangements and spend a significant amount of time with both parents, it is beneficial as well. The key is giving children quality time with both their mother and father.