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Joint or sole custody: what's better for a child?

In an ideal world, a child would live with both of his or her parents and a home would be dominated by love, stability and support. Unfortunately, in the real world, an analysis by the Pew Research Center revealed that only an estimated 43 percent of U.S. children today live in a home with both parents—many of which are likely unhappily married. Today, an estimated 41 percent of U.S. children are born to unwed parents and approximately 30 percent of U.S. children live in single-parent homes.

These dramatic shifts in familial composition mean that increasingly, U.S. parents are being forced to deal with child custody issues. While historically mothers have been favored in child custody cases, recent research suggests that a child benefits the most from the everyday involvement of both parents.

Researchers in Sweden recently published the findings of a study of 150,000 children in which they aimed to examine links between familial structure and stress. In their findings, researchers noted that children who are raised by two married parents experience the lowest instances of psychosomatic or stress-linked symptoms like headaches, stomach aches and sleep problems.

When examining those study participants with divorced or separated parents, researchers found that those who had joint child custody arrangements fared significantly better than those who lived with a single parent. The results of this study echo those of previous recent studies including one conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC study revealed that "78 percent of children who lived with one biological parent" reported experiencing stress and trauma related to divorce, separations, mental illness, domestic violence, substance abuse and poverty.

Illinois parents who are going through a divorce or who were never married and are dealing with child custody issues often have many questions, concerns and fears. It's wise to discuss one's situation with a family law attorney who can help find solutions to child custody challenges.

Source: OK News, "Joint physical custody makes children less stressed, study says," Herb Scribner, April 30, 2015

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