Joint-custody arrangements good for children of divorce -- but only if there is no parental conflict

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A new study suggests children of divorced parents can benefit when they split time between their parents' homes -- but the positive impact can be offset by ongoing conflict between the parents.

The results showed that without parental conflict, children in physical joint-custody arrangements showed fewer behavioral problems than children under the custody of a single parent.

But when the former spouses had frequent disagreements, the children were likely to feel sad, actively intervene into the parental conflict, and behave less cooperatively, said Mo-Yee Lee, author of the study and associate professor of social work at Ohio State University.

"A high-conflict environment, especially when it places children in the center of parental arguments, is detrimental for children. It completely nullifies the benefits that the dual-residence arrangement can provide," said Lee.

The results were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Family Issues.

The study involved 59 children and their divorced mothers who were recruited from two social agencies and a children's drop-in center in a large city. The children were 6 to 12 years old.

The children's mothers were asked to report on the type of custody agreement their child was in, and the degree of conflict

Contact: Mo-Yee Lee
Ohio State University

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