Why exactly is shared parenting considered so important these days? While this system of raising children after a divorce has been around for several decades, it's still new enough that a lot of parents don't understand why it's so important to have nearly equal parenting time and a cooperative system of decision making when it comes to major issues.
After all, it certainly seems like it would be easier for everyone involved if the judge would just put one parent -- the one with primary physical custody -- in charge of all the major decisions. That's how things always used to be done after a divorce, right?
Then researchers found out that the children of divorce weren't just missing their other parent (usually their father) -- they were actually hurting in a myriad of ways that nobody predicted.
Study after study has now backed up the notion that children thrive better in an environment where parents are expected to put aside their personal differences with each other and make parenting choices together, instead of putting young children largely in the care of their mothers and then gradually letting fathers into their older children's lives by increments.
The old way, which basically presumed that fathers weren't natural nurturers and couldn't handle caring for very young children (even overnight), leads to a number of social, developmental and physical problems for the children.
It didn't particularly surprise a lot of people to find out that children who don't get to spend a significant amount of time with their non-custodial parents end up with poorer grades and are more likely to struggle with addiction to drugs and alcohol. However, studies also show that there are actual physical problems associated with high-conflict divorces where parents refuse to cooperate in order to raise their children. Those children end up suffering dermatological, neurological and gastrointestinal ailments nearly twice as often as other children. They're also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other stress-induced psychological ailments.
Shared parenting isn't always easy to do, especially if there's been a lot of animosity between your and your spouse prior to or during the divorce -- but it's absolutely worth the effort if you intend to give your child the best chance possible of getting through the divorce relatively unscathed. For more information on this or other child custody issues, talk to your attorney today.
Source: STAT, "After divorce, shared parenting is best for children's health and development," Richard A. Warshak, May 26, 2017