New research supports shared custody for children in divorce

What she did find is that the quality of the parent-child relationship, with both the father and the mother, trumped everything else.

“Forget that it’s divorce,” she said. “Think about growing up in a married home. Of course, it bothers kids when their parents quarrel. Conflict does matter. But what we’re saying is that the quality of your relationship with your parents matters a whole lot more than the parents’ relationship with each other.”

Her study was published in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, a journal of the American Psychological Association.

To truly help families move forward with the best interests of children front and center, Nielsen believes, the focus should be on developing programs and policies that strengthen the child’s relationship with each parent and reducing children’s exposure to conflict, “rather than assuming that joint physical custody is not an option.”


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