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Researchers say joint custody is best for children

Children of divorced parents in Virginia may experience less stress if their parents decide to co-parent, according to a new study. Researchers from the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Sweden found that children who go back and forth between two parents' homes had fewer psychosomatic health problems than children who lived with only one parent.

One researcher said that the results of the study go against a popular belief that moving around constantly would cause kids to feel more stress. What the study demonstrated was that the impact of living in two separate homes was far less important to children's well-being than maintaining close relationships with both parents. When both divorced parents remain actively engaged with their children, the children do not experience the loss of an important relationship, and they have greater access to resources and support.

The co-parenting study was conducted by analyzing data from nearly 150,000 students of the ages of 12 and 15. Researchers looked at the occurrence of psychosomatic health problems in the children such as difficulty sleeping, lack of concentration, headaches, stomachaches, dizziness and loss of appetite. Children in nuclear families had the least amount of these problems while children living with only one divorced parent had the most. Those who were being co-parented were somewhere in between.

A parent who would like to set up a co-parenting arrangement as part of a divorce settlement might want to have representation from a lawyer. Legal assistance may be especially important if the other parent is seeking full legal or physical child custody. A lawyer might help argue that shared custody is in the best interest of the child by pointing out the positive psychological benefits.

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