Here are some results
of studies conducted by competent
researchers that substantiate that
shared parenting is best for children
in most cases. It's a little long,
but contains many useful conclusions
based on studies of multiple paradigms
of families in separate households.
I believe these summaries
can be used to persuade politicians
to support legislation advancing the
mission of CCJ and the rights of children
to unfettered access to both parents.
Great summary article:
Parental Alienation Syndrome: How to
Detect It and What to Do About It
by J. Michael Bone and Michael R. Walsh
Studies you can download here:
Compilation of Studies - Childrens
Parent Equality Research - Ireland
All the credible
research proves that what is best for
children is equal time with both
parents. If you are not doing this for
your children you are setting them up
for failure in life.
on Shared Parenting and Joint Custody
Joint custody and
shared parenting (i.e., joint physical
and legal custody) have been studied
for more than a quarter-century, with
the majority of studies indicating
significant benefits for children.
About a third of existing studies
show no difference between joint and
sole custody for children's adjustment
to divorce. The critical factor appears
to be conflict between parents. When
parents cooperate and minimize conflict,
children do better with shared parenting/joint
physical custody. If there is significant
conflict between parents, however,
shared parenting provides no benefits
and children do no better (and no
worse) than they do in sole custody.
This section summarizes some of the
research published in the past decade.
Physical Custody -- Adolescents After
Divorce, Buchanan, C., Maccoby, and
Dornbusch, Harvard University Press,1996.
A study of 517 families
with children ranging in age from
10.5 years to 18 years, across a four
and a half year period. Measures were:
assessed depression, deviance, school
effort, and school grades. Children
in joint physical custody arrangements
were found to have better adjustment
on these measures than those in sole
Psychological Association, Report
to the U.S. Comm. on Child and Family
Welfare, June 14, 1995.
This report "summarizes
and evaluates the major research concerning
joint custody and its impact on children's
welfare." The report concludes
that "The research reviewed supports
the conclusion that joint custody
is associated with certain favorable
outcomes for children including father
involvement, best interest of the
child for adjustment outcomes, child
support, reduced relitigation costs,
and sometimes reduced parental conflict."
The APA also noted that "The
need for improved policy to reduce
the present adversarial approach that
has resulted in primarily sole maternal
custody, limited father involvement
and maladjustment of both children
and parents is critical. Increased
mediation, joint custody, and parent
education are supported for this policy."
Ronald Richard, "A Comparison
of Children's Post-divorce Adjustment
in Sole and Joint Physical Custody
Arrangements Matched for Types of
Parental Conflict" Doctoral dissertation,
1992; Texas Woman's University
This study included
"forty boys and girls, ages 8
to 12, in attendance at selected private
secular and parochial schools in a
large Southwestern metropolitan area
participated, along with their middle
to upper-class parents." The
study compared adjustment of children
in joint and sole physical custody,
controlling for level of conflict
between parents, to determine if parental
conflict would be more detrimental
to children in joint or sole custody.
The author summarized findings as
follows: "Overall, no significant
difference between joint and sole
physical custody groups was found."
Kim Evonne, "Parental and Children's
Experiences and Adjustment in Maternal
Versus Joint Custody Families "
Doctoral dissertation, 1991. North
Texas State U.
This study compared
21 joint custody and 21 maternal custody
families, with children between the
ages of 4-15.
Results showed that
misbehavior and "acting out"
were more common among sole custody
children: "A multiple regression
analysis of these data found children
in joint custody families had fewer
behavioral adjustment problems with
externalizing behavior than children
in mother custody families."
"Regardless of custody arrangement,
parents with low self esteem were
more likely to have children with
behavioral adjustment problems when
predicting the child's overall behavioral
adjustment and internalized behavior."
Pearson and N. Thoennes, "Custody
After Divorce: Demographic and Attitudinal
Patterns", American Journal of
Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 60, 1990.
with other studies of joint and sole
custody [citations], our joint legal
and residential non-custodians were
decidedly more involved with their
children following divorce than were
non-custodians in sole custody arrangements.
. . . Lastly, respondents in joint
custody arrangements were more apt
to perceive their ex-spouse as having
a good relationship with the children
and to report satisfaction with that
person's performance as a parent."
" . . . conflict
between divorcing parents in our sample
did not appear to worsen as a result
of the increased demand for inter-parental
cooperation and communication in joint
legal or joint residential custody
arrangements. To the contrary, parents
with sole maternal custody reported
the greatest deterioration in the
relationships over time."
R. and C. Steele, "Comparing
the Effects on the Child of Post-divorce
Parenting Arrangements," Journal
of Divorce, Vol. 12, No. 2-3 (1989).
This study evaluated
children aged 6 to 15 in the areas
of locus of control, self-concept,
and family relationships. The children
were divided into three groups: shared
custody, maternal custody, and intact
families. Intact family children had
averaged higher than divorced family
children on self-concept and father
relationships, and shared custody
children averaged higher the sole
custody children in these areas. Intact
family children had fewer least-positive
responses in all areas than divorced
family children, and shared custody
children had fewer least-positive
responses than sole custody children
in all areas except mother relationship.
This study indicates that, on average,
a two parent intact family is the
best arrangement for children, and
a shared parenting arrangement is
better than a sole custody arrangement,
i.e., a two-parent family is better
even if parents are divorced.
Holly Zingale "Children's perceptions
of their relationship with their fathers
in three family constellations: mother
sole custody, joint custody and intact
families" Doctoral dissertation,
U. of California, Davis 1989
This study evaluated
children's perceptions of their fathers
at least four years post-divorce,
comparing joint custody, sole custody
and intact families. The subjects
were 43 latency-age children: 11 from
maternal custody families, 14 from
joint custody families and 18 controls
from intact homes.
was a significant difference in the
perceptions of children in sole and
joint custody. Joint custody children
reported spending more time with their
fathers in child-centered activities,
activities which were considered pleasurable
and important to children." And:
"No differences were found as
a function of custody arrangements
in children's perceptions of emotional
closeness to the father, acceptance
by the father, or fathers's potency
Isabel A. "Adjustment of latency
age children in joint and single custody
arrangements" California School
of Professional Psychology, San Diego,
This study evaluated
90 children, aged 7 to 12, divided
equally among maternal, joint legal,
and joint physical custody groups.
Results showed negative
effects for sole custody: "Single
custody subjects evidenced greater
self-hate and perceived more rejection
from their fathers than joint physical
custody subjects." Conflict between
parents was found to be a significant
factor, which may explain the better
adjustment for joint physical custody
children: "Degree of inter-parental
conflict was a significant predictor
of child self-hate. Higher conflict
was associated with greater self-hate;
lower conflict was associated with
lower self-hate." "Higher
father-child contact was associated
with better adjustment, lower self-hate,
and lower perceived rejection from
father; lower father-child contact
was associated with poorer adjustment,
higher self-hate, and higher perceived
rejection from father. "
In situations with high levels of
conflict, mental illness, or domestic
violence, joint physical custody is
no better (and no worse) than sole
the Breakup, J. Wallerstein and J.
Kelly; Second Chances, J. Wallerstein
and S. Blakeslee; and other publications.
and colleagues have produced many
publications on a 20+ year study of
184 families that had been referred
to her clinic for therapy. The parents
were predominantly mentally ill, with
approximately half the men and half
the women "moderately disturbed
or frequently incapacitated by disabling
neuroses and addictions," including
some who were "sometimes suicidal."
An additional 20% of the women and
15% of the men were categorized as
"severely disturbed." Approximately
one third of the sample were considered
to have "adequate psychological
functioning" before divorce.
Although there was a significant level
of attrition, with families dropping
out of the study when problems were
resolved, some conclusions emerged
from the remaining families. Children
in joint custody situations did no
better than those in sole custody,
indicating that parents must be reasonably
psychologically healthy for shared
parenting to benefit children.
Janet R., Marsha Kline, and Jeanne
M. Tschann, "Ongoing Postdivorce
Conflict: Effects on Children of Joint
Custody and Frequent Access,"
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry,
Vol. 59, No. 4 (Oct. 1989).
Johnston et al. studied
100 low income families involved in
ongoing custody disputes that included
frequent verbal and physical aggression.
Approximately one third of the children
were in joint physical custody arrangements
averaging 12 days per month with the
less-seen parent, with the others
in either mother or father sole physical
custody averaging 4 days a month with
the less-seen parent. The study found
that "there was no clear evidence
that children are better adjusted
in either custody type", and
that "mean scores for the Child
Behavior Checklist lie within the
normal range for all custody types."
Also, "there was no evidence
that the clinically disturbed children
were more likely to be in joint than
in sole custody." However, the
study did find that more frequent
contact between parents in either
joint or sole custody arrangements
was "associated with more emotional
and behavioral problems in the children."
indicates that shared parenting may
not reduce disputes between parents
in extreme high-conflict situations,
but also shows that sole custody does
not protect children from the effects
of conflict between parents. In high
conflict situations, it is probably
better to reduce interaction between
parents. For example, parents can
pick up children from school instead
of from the other parent's house.
The study did find
one significant benefit from shared
parenting even in these cases: "Only
one parent with joint custody ceased
contact with her child, whereas 12
parents of sole custody children 'dropped
out'." Thus joint custody does
appear to protect children from the
complete loss of a parent, even in
high conflict situations.
Although not as beneficial
to children as equal shared parenting
(joint physical custody), joint legal
custody helps to some extent. The
main benefits of joint legal custody
are in reducing visitation interference
and improving child support compliance.
Joint legal custody
has been consistently linked with
more parental involvement, higher
child support compliance, and less
conflict between parents. Until recently,
however, it was not clear whether
these benefits occurred as a result
of joint legal custody, or simply
because more cooperative parents chose
joint custody in the first place.
The 1997 study by Seltzer provides
strong evidence for a cause and effect
relationship between joint legal custody
and the benefits associated with it.
Seltzer, J. "Father
by Law: Effects of Joint Legal Custody
on Non-residential Fathers Involvement
with Children," NSFH Paper No.
75, Feb., 1997, U. of Wisconsin-Madison,
Seltzer used data
from the National Survey of Families
and Households, a survey of over 13,000
families that collected data in two
waves, 1987-88 and 1992-94. Because
the study included data on the quality
of family relationships, it was possible
to study the effects of joint legal
custody while controlling from pre-separation
family relationships by analyzing
data on families that had separated
between the survey waves.
that "Controlling for the quality
of family relationships before separation
and socioeconomic status, fathers
with joint legal custody see their
children more frequently, have more
overnight visits, and pay more child
support than fathers in families in
which mothers have sole legal custody."
She suggests that joint legal custody
helps reduce visitation denial: "By
clarifying that divorced fathers are
'by law' still fathers, parents' negotiations
about fathers' participation in child
rearing after divorce may shift from
trying to resolve whether fathers
will be involved in child rearing
to the matter of how fathers will
be involved." [emphasis in original]
M.L., and S.L. Braver, "The Effects
of Joint Legal Custody on Family Functioning,
Controlling for Factors that Predispose
a joint award," Child Development.
This study evaluated
273 families, controlling for 28 variables
that influence a predisposition to
agree on joint legal custody. Controlling
for these factors, children in joint
legal custody families had more time
with their fathers and fewer adjustment
an behavior problems. The custody
type, however, did not affect the
adjustment of fathers or mothers post-divorce,
conflict between ex-spouses, or child
Sanford Braver, "Determining
the Impact of Joint Custody on Divorcing
Study consisted of
378 families; some with unmatched
partners, in various custody arrangements.
". . .Sharlene
Wolchik, Iwrin Sandler and I found
in 1985 that children in joint custody
had higher feelings of self-worth
than children in sole maternal custody."
showed considerable benefits for joint
custody, even when equating predisposing
factors. After this adjustment, children
in joint custody were found to be
significantly better adjusted, and
to exhibit less antisocial and impulsive
behavior than sole custody families.
Fathers also visited more, and were
more involved in child care, as well
as more satisfied with the divorce
settlement. Mothers, however, were
significantly less satisfied with
the custody arrangements in joint
"When the couple
disagrees initially, which is better
for the family, for the father to
get his preference (joint [custody])
or for the mother to get her preference
(sole [custody])? We found that the
groups differed significantly in terms
of how much financial child support
was paid: when sole custody was that
arrangement despite the fathers' wishes,
80% was paid (according to what the
father reported; the figure was 64%
by mothers' report), while when joint
custody was awarded despite the mothers'
preference, it zoomed to almost perfect
compliance (97% by fathers' report;
94% by mothers' report) . . . A similar
relationship was found for fathers'
contact with the child. It was significantly
highest for the group in which joint
custody was awarded despite the mothers'
preference." "Joint custody,
even when awarded despite the contrary
preference of the mother, leads to
more involved fathers, and almost
perfect of financial child support;
controlling for predisposing factors,
it leads to better adjusted children.
. . We believe these findings call
for policy makers, in the best interest
of the children, to adopt a presumption
that is rebuttable for joint legal
custody, that is, a judicial preference
that both parents retain their right
and responsibilities toward their
children post divorce."