February 23, 2018
NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION CALLS ATTENTION TO RESULTS OF 60 CHILD DEVELOPMENT STUDIES
Scientific Evidence Overwhelmingly Favors Shared Parenting Over Sole Custody Post-Divorce
The Journal of Child Custody recently published an update on child development research surrounding what’s best for kids when parents divorce or separate. In the update, Linda Nielsen, a Wake Forest University professor of adolescent and educational psychology, analyzed 60 studies spanning multiple decades and numerous countries. She concluded that shared parenting is better for children than single parenting on almost every measure of wellbeing.
“This presents a major opportunity for improving children’s outcomes, given that the vast majority of children whose parents have separated or divorced grow up in the sole custody of one parent and rarely see the other,” said Ned Holstein, MD, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization.
In the study, Nielsen wrote: “As the studies summarized in this article demonstrate, JPC (joint physical custody) is linked to better outcomes than SPC (sole physical custody) for children … ” She continued, “As researchers continue to explore the factors that might explain children’s better outcomes in JPC families, it is clear that shared parenting families are on the rise and that children are benefitting …”
The update was published in January and follows a 2014 analysis in which Nielsen analyzed 40 studies and also concluded shared parenting was in the best interest of children.
Dr. Holstein said: “It convincingly shows that shared parenting equals the best interest of the child for most children. With the scientific evidence now overwhelmingly showing children desperately need and want both parents after divorce or separation, our family courts must abandon their archaic practice of ordering sole custody.”
While shared parenting remains unusual in the United States, a trend in that direction has developed in recent years. It has been the usual arrangement for several years in Sweden, Belgium and Australia, and research there has shown much better outcomes for children. The Washington Post recently revealed that about half of the states in the U.S. have considered laws supportive of shared parenting in the past year. A handful of states have had similar laws for several years, and each year a couple more pass such laws, most recently in Missouri and Kentucky.
“It’s time for family court reform in every state. We can’t afford to allow our broken family court system to continue with the sole custody status quo – our children can’t be deprived of either parent any longer,” Dr. Holstein said.
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
- In September 2017, Acta Paediatrica, a peer-reviewed medical journal in the field of pediatrics, published a paper by Swedish researcher Malin Bergstrom of the Karolinska Institute titled “Preschool children living in joint physical custody arrangements show less psychological symptoms than those living mostly or only with one parent” – it concluded the mental health of children ages three to five with shared parenting is better on average than the mental health of those in the care of a single parent.
- The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “... shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
- In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, “Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science.” He also wrote, “The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal’s website.” He added, “The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field’s general acceptance of the consensus report’s findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers."
- The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled “Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” in May 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
- The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”
- In December, 2016, The American Psychological Association published research by William V. Fabricius of Arizona State University in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law entitled, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data.” Prof Fabricius’ findings provide “… strong support for policies to encourage frequent overnight parenting time [up to and including 50/50 overnights –Ed] for infants and toddlers [even younger than one year –Ed], because the benefits [for children-Ed] associated with overnights also held for parents who initially agreed about overnights as well as for those who disagreed and had the overnight parenting plan imposed over 1 parent’s objections.” Fabricius shared details on his findings during the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017, a May 29-30, 2017 event in Boston, Massachusetts hosted by National Parents Organization and the International Council on Shared Parenting.
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:
- 63% of teen suicides;
- 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
- 71% of high school drop-outs;
- 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
- 85% of those in prison;
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
- 90% of homeless and runaway children.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bonds with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws, and in 2017, National Parents Organization hosted the International Conference on Shared Parenting, bringing in research scholars from 18 countries to share their results on shared parenting. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org