Filing for or legal separation forces you to negotiate a variety of matters, including your property and assets. When there are children involved, however, you must consider the prospect of joint or sole-physical custody. Traditionally, judges award sole-physical custody to the parent who spent the most time raising the children and/or who is more physically and mentally capable of caring for them. Yet, studies show that children who are raised in joint-custody situations may fare better in many areas of their lives.

More than 50 studies, including those from the National Institute for Mental Health and the American Psychological Association, show benefits of shared parenting when compared to raising children in a single parent arrangement. Shared parenting occurs when the child spends at least 35% of their time with their mother and father, while sole parenting involves the child living with one parent and visiting the custodial parent every other weekend and one day during the week.

The studies show that it is difficult for children to engage in a meaningful relationship with non-custodial parents with such limited visits. Kids in joint-custody arrangements tend to get better grades, have better relationships and experience less anxiety and depression than those raised in single parent households. Kids who spend a significant amount of time with both parents are also less likely to use drugs, smoke and get pregnant at an early age.

Both parents contribute to a child’s development in a unique way. In most cases, it is in the best interest of the child to spend a significant amount of time with each parent.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.