Evaluation of Various Custody Arrangements

Because of the great diversity of individual and family characteristics it is not possible to make a generalization that one custody type is better for all children or all parents. Nevertheless, when examining research on child custody certain trends emerge.

Joint custody has the advantage of assuring the child of continuing contact with both parents. It alleviates some of the burdens of parenting as parents get time off for their own interests. The disadvantages of joint custody include less stability for children, as they must be shuttled between the parents, and problems for parents who want to move to a different area. Perhaps the most crucial consideration in deciding custody is that ongoing parental conflict is a primary predictor of children's maladjustment. Children who continue to feel ''caught in the middle'' when parents fight face particularly negative outcomes.

Joint custody has been linked to higher satisfaction with the custody arrangement in parents and better adjustment in children if it is self-selected and parents are cooperative. (Bob Daemmrich, Stock Boston, Inc.)

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