New Jersey courts have long recognized the benefit of the involvement of both parents in the daily lives of their children and tend to favor shared — or joint — custody when there is a divorce, absent any evidence of abuse or neglect.
There have been many studies on the benefits of shared parenting for children. One report examined 54 studies that compared outcomes for children in shared and sole physical custody situations; the findings revealed that:
Children in shared custody homes had better outcomes than those in sole physical custody homes in terms of academic achievement, emotional health, physical health, and other family relationships.
Infants and toddlers in shared custody households bonded better with each parent.
Even in a high-conflict divorce, children in joint custody households fared the same as those in a low-conflict divorce.
Income level does not affect children of shared custody.
Parents that share parenting do not generally have better co-parenting relationships or lower rates of conflict than those with sole custody.
Most parents who share parenting do not usually agree to that plan in the beginning; it is common for one parent to oppose the plan initially, but will then compromise as a result of negotiation, mediation, or court order.
Being able to maintain a strong relationship with both parents appears to offset the damage of high parental conflict and poor parenting.
None of the studies showed that children of parents in high-conflict divorces and custody disputes have worse outcomes than those whose parents had lower levels of conflict. Instead, they seem to refute several popular myths about parenting: that mothers are better at parenting than fathers, that time spent away from mom will weaken an infant’s bond, and more.
A growing number of states have passed or are considering shared parenting legislation that would make it the norm for divorced families. Parents themselves need to consider the benefits of shared parenting and their duty to their children to create a workable post-divorce living environment that sets them up for success in later life.
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