When determining what would be the best for your children when you and your spouse have decided to split, there are a variety of child custody arrangements that can be discussed and put into place. Many psychologists have wondered about the effect that custody arrangements could have on children that are forced into the custody arrangement, especially determining whether one custody arrangement may be in the best interest of the child.
The Custody Arrangement-Stress Study
According to a most recent study, surprisingly, the once-held idea that shared custody arrangements were more stressful for children actually is not the case at all. As found in the study, where 150,000 children ages 12-15 years old were evaluated, it is the children who are in a one-parent home that suffer the most. The researchers met with children who lived in nuclear families, those that spent time in a shared custody relationship with their parents, and then children who lived in one-parent homes, and evaluated their psychosomatic health problems, including everything from sleep issues, stomachaches, tension, loss of appetite, or any issues concentrating.
The Results of the Study
It was no surprise that children in the nuclear family reported the least amount of issues regarding psychosomatic issues. Though many researchers felt that the stress of moving back and forth between two parents adversely affected children in joint custody arrangements, it was the opposite. Having two parents affected the stress of moving between two homes: the children had double the resources, the social circles, family, and material goods, and made these children feel less vulnerable. The children that were in a sole-parent custody arrangement actually were more stressed and had more serious psychosomatic issues than any of the other children in the arrangements. Accordingly, it was also girls who reported more psychosomatic issues than their male counterparts, and sleep problems had the most impact on the children.
Shared Parenting Bills Nationwide
This research comes at the time where several states are pushing forward shared parenting bills, and providing significant parental rights to fathers in child custody arrangements. In the past, the courts generally ruled in favor of the mothers; now, the movement has pushed forward for equal parenting time for both mother and father. The fear behind the presumption of the shared parenting bill is that fathers who are emotionally or physically abusive to the family will have significant bargaining power at the custody negotiations because they are put on equal footing as the mothers. There are also concerns about forcing parents who have significant hate for each other to collaborate and agree on decisions for the children.
Illinois: Joint Custody as a Default
In Illinois, the Court system has already created a presumption that joint custody arrangements are in the best interest of the child. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that the default custody arrangement should be a joint parenting situation where the parents come to a solution through a parental agreement, deciding which upbringing matters will be decided together and which can be decided apart. The court will also see the extent to which the parents can cooperate and work effectively together for the child.
When Joint Custody Is Not in the Best Interest of the Child
Though the best interest of the child analysis generally pulls in favor of joint custody, the court has significant latitude in allowing judges to determine when the presence of one of the parents could potentially harm the child, such as in the situation where the parent has been convicted of being a sex offender, or there has been an occurrence of repeated abuse in the household.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County
If you and your spouse are considering a divorce, it is important speak with the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices about child custody arrangements and how to best draft a parental agreement. Contact our experienced DuPage County divorce attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.
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