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Joint custody may be best choice for some children of divorce

Many childcare experts assume that children of divorce fare better if they live with only one parent. Texas children of divorce may spend time with the noncustodial parent on a court-approved schedule, but the social upheaval of moving back and forth between two homes is viewed by many as stressful for the children.

A new study from Sweden suggests that living part time with each parent may be better for children than living with one parent. The study of sixth and ninth graders found that among children of divorce, those who lived with both parents reported fewer problems than children who lived with one parent. The study looked at the occurrence of sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, stomachaches, loss of appetite and headaches.

The researchers concluded that children benefit from having two circles of friends, two extended families and two family incomes. These benefits of joint-custody parenting help to avoid the loss of a close relationship with one parent that often occurs when only one parent has custody. Moving their belongings once or twice a week apparently does not generate the level of stress in children of divorce that was traditionally assumed.

Court decisions regarding child custody and visitation are driven by what is in the best interests of the child. In some cases, joint custody is apparently the arrangement that is best for the child. An individual who is contemplating divorce or whose ex-spouse was granted sole custody of the children may consult an attorney with experience in child custody cases. The attorney may be able to help the parent build a case that may convince a judge that joint custody is actually the arrangement that promotes the best interests of the child.

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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