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Joint Custody is better – new study

26 May 2015 543 views One Comment

A new study provides compelling evidence that UK Family Courts are getting it wrong. Our courts, and CAFCASS in particular, favour one parent having primary care, believing this to be less disruptive to a child than shared care. This study set out to test that hypothesis, and found the opposite: “Those in joint physical custody report better psychosomatic health than children living mostly or only with one parent.”

Its enormous sample size (nearly 150,000) makes the results statistically very reliable. It concluded shared parenting was better than the UK’s preferred model of primary care with one parent. Sweden has a higher proportion of shared care arrangements (30% – 40%) than any other country. The sample for this study was Swedish children aged 12 & 15. The most common type of order made in UK courts is sole parenting (i.e.the child lives with one parent and spends time with the other.) CAFCASS and Judges should take note: while the study could not account for why shared care is better ( it recommended longitudional studies into this), it is unequivocal in its conclusion that it is better. Joint physical custody is better for children than living mostly or only with one parent. You are using the wrong model.

The report is published in the BMJ Journal: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Here is the Abstract from the study:


Background In many Western countries, an increasing number of children with separated parents have joint physical custody, that is, live equally much in their parent’s respective homes. In Sweden, joint physical custody is particularly common and concerns between 30% and 40% of the children with separated parents. It has been hypothesised that the frequent moves and lack of stability in parenting may be stressful for these children.

Methods We used data from a national classroom survey of all sixth and ninth grade students in Sweden (N=147839) to investigate the association between children’s psychosomatic problems and living arrangements. Children in joint physical custody were compared with those living only or mostly with one parent and in nuclear families. We conducted sex-specific linear regression analyses for z-transformed sum scores of psychosomatic problems and adjusted for age,country of origin as well as children’s satisfaction with material resources and relationships to parents. Clustering by school was accounted for by using a two-level random intercept model.

Results Children in joint physical custody suffered from less psychosomatic problems than those living mostly or only with one parent but reported more symptoms than those in nuclear families. Satisfaction with their material resources and parent–child relationships was associated with children’s psychosomatic health but could not explain the differences between children in the different living arrangements.

Conclusions Children with non-cohabitant parents experience more psychosomatic problems than those in nuclear families. Those in joint physical custody do however report better psychosomatic health than children living mostly or only with one parent. Longitudinal studies with information on family factors before and after the separation are needed to inform policy of children’s post-separation living arrangements.

One Comment »

  • heartbroken_dad2003 said:


    So its perfectly acceptable for a mother (Rebecca Minnock) to steal her son and contact the press which immediately is brodcast on national television etc! Where is the equality there? For every 1 mother losing her child there are 999 fathers. Todays gender biased society is pathetic and I am so disgusted by the coverage that this child abducting mother is getting.

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