While more-or-less equally shared parenting time is more common than ever after couples split up, most exes don’t split their time with their children equally. In most of these cases, it’s still the mother who gets the bulk of the parenting responsibilities.
Multiple studies, however, have shown that children do better when they spend close to an equal amount of time with each parent.
The positive outcomes of shared parenting for children
One professor who reviewed some 60 studies of children in various custody arrangements found that children whose parents had close to a 50-50 custody split fared better in things like:
- Academic achievement
- Physical and mental health
- Relationships with both parents as well as grandparents and stepparents
They were also less likely to have issues with alcohol, drug and cigarette use and were less likely to engage in sexual activity. The benefits continued into adulthood, with greater stability in their own families as well as higher wages and employment rates.
The studies indicated that these positive outcomes from shared custody occurred even when the divorced parents had a high-conflict relationship and when their financial situations were unequal. However, when parents shared custody, there tended to be fewer parental battles and fewer issues with child support since parents who feel like they’re part of their children’s lives tend to feel better about meeting their child support obligation.
Both boys and girls were found to benefit when they continued to have a close relationship with their fathers after divorce. They were less likely to feel abandoned by their fathers after their parents’ divorce. Of course, this would contribute to healthier relationships as they got older.
The benefits for mothers and fathers
The outcomes of shared parenting aren’t just better for kids but for parents as well. Divorced mothers whose exes share the parenting responsibilities have higher incomes since they’re able to focus more on their careers. Divorced fathers with shared parenting time are less likely to suffer from depression and other mental health issues.
Of course, every family is different. You need to work toward a parenting agreement that is best for your children and is appropriate for you and your co-parent’s unique situations. However, all divorcing parents can benefit from learning what researchers who have looked at thousands of families have found.