Children in joint custody arrangements had less behavior and emotional problems, had higher self-esteem, better family relations and school performance than children in sole custody arrangements. And these children were as well-adjusted as intact family children on the same measures, said Bauserman, “probably because joint custody provides the child with an opportunity to have ongoing contact with both parents.”
These findings indicate that children do not actually need to be in a joint physical custody to show better adjustment but just need to spend substantial time with both parents, especially with their fathers, said Bauserman. Also, joint custody couples reported less conflict, possibly because both parents could participate in their children’s lives equally and not spend the time arguing over childcare decisions. Unfortunately a perception exists that joint custody is more harmful because it exposes children to ongoing parental conflict. In fact, the studies in this review found that sole-custody parents reported higher levels of conflict. It is important to recognize that the results do not support joint custody in all situations. When one parent is abusive or neglectful or has a serious mental or physical health problem, sole-custody with the other parent would clearly be preferable,
Why are shared care arrangements good for children? Why must the courts address parental alienation? Why is leave to remove invariably not in a child’s best interests? Why are overnights not harmful for very young children? Why is the traditional model of alternate weekend contact arrangements insufficient as a post separation child arrangements model?
The answers are in a wide body of research which should (but does not) form the basis of policy on post-separation child arrangements. If it did, shared parenting arrangements would be the norm.