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New Study Shows Long Term Effects for Joint Custody

Divorce courts generally seek to find an evenhanded decision regarding divorce. Whether that is in regards to division of property, spousal support, or custody arrangements. For custody, the decision is mostly guided by what is in the best interest of the child.

Custody is divided into physical custody and legal custody, each of which can be appointed either to both parents or just one. Legal custody allows one or both of the parents to make decisions about raising the children. This can include decisions about the religion, medical care, and schooling. Physical custody lets the child live with one or both parents.

A new study has shown how joint physical custody affects babies. Researcher Robert Emery explained the reasoning behind the study. “The whole notion of joint custody has become increasingly popular, and it's extended down to affect very young children. There's been very little research into its effects, but lots of opinion,” he said.

Emery, a psychology professor of the University of Virginia, joined other professionals looking at data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. It is a longitudinal study that followed 5,000 children born in big US cities from 1998 and 2000. Interviews were taken of the parents when the children are newborns, one year old, and three.

They found that babies who spend too much time away from their primary caregiver may become maladjusted later in life. These issues can include not seeking attachment later in life, separation anxiety, and not being able to soothe easily. The main takeaway is that the research team wants divorcing partners to think more clearly about seeking joint custody. “A solution would be if parents can work together to think about time not in terms of days and months but years—to come up with a long-range plan that will develop with children's changing needs,” Emery concluded. What seems like the best available option may be worse in the long run.

When considering filing for divorce from your partner, there are a lot of considerations. But much like the divorce court, your main concern should be making decisions in the best interest for your children. In order to make an informed decision, contact a skilled divorce attorney in DuPage County.

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