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You may need to rethink what you know about child custody

California parents often find it difficult to decide to file for divorce. Although the move may be for the best, many couples are understandably worried about how the split will affect their children. Indeed, when parents do part ways, resolving issues concerning child custody usually figures as one of their top priorities.

It is no secret that a divorce will have a pronounced impact on any children involved. Research indicates that children of divorce are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their peers, and are prone to acting out in the months following their parents' break-up. But emerging studies suggest that there are steps parents can take to minimize the incidence of such outcomes. 

The science is in: 50/50 custody may be best

New research that focused on preschool-aged children indicates that joint custody is less emotionally stressful than other custody options. The study involved 3,656 children of divorced parents, all of whom were aged three to five years old.

Researchers found that, after a divorce, children who were able to alternate living with their parents exhibited fewer behavioral and psychological problems than their peers who were part of sole custody arrangements. The joint custody children spent approximately the same amount of time with each parent at their respective homes.

Past research agrees

Many of the previous studies on 50/50 custody focused on older children, mostly adolescents and school-aged kids. While these studies demonstrate that older children greatly benefit when their parents share physical custody, researchers did not believe that the results could translate to young children.

Experts presumed that preschool-aged children would require higher levels of stability and continuity than older kids. However, this more recent study seems to suggest that children excel emotionally when they have ongoing and equal access to both of their parents after a divorce.

Is joint physical custody right for you?

Every family in California is unique, and what works for one family might not be right for another. It is important for divorcing parents to fully understand their children's best interests and how to build child custody plans around those interests.

However, you likely do not want to leave your custody arrangement up to chance. Family law can be complicated, and it is not always clear how decisions made during custody negotiations will affect the future. To better ensure that you fully protect your children and their parental access, it is a good idea to work with a lawyer who understands the complex nature of the matter.

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