Traditionally, when parents divorced, family court judges usually ordered that mothers would be the primary care provider and fathers would be relegated to part-time parenting. However, in spite of the intention to spare children the conflict that may erupt between parents, a recent study points to shared child custody being a better option. Pennsylvania has its own laws regarding parenting arrangements, but shared custody is one possibility.
One researcher wanted to study whether parental conflict would have a negative impact on children, thereby justifying choosing one primary parent. However, after studying the relationships between fathers and their daughters for over two decades and then focusing on the question of conflict, the researcher concluded that children are better served by having a close bond with both parents. It has been demonstrated that even young children benefit from having as equal time with both parents as possible.
While it is imperative to shield children from a possibly neglectful or abusive parent, protecting them from the sometimes discordant relationship between parents is not necessarily as important as once thought. Furthermore, the issue of conflict can be difficult to accurately assess since parents can sometimes exaggerate the level of discord in an effort to have a judge side with one party or the other. This researcher is not alone in her findings, as other professionals have stated that children who have a healthy relationship with both parents tend to have more success in school and are less likely to make poor decisions.
While a divorce marks the end of the relationship between parents, it does not have to harm the bond between the child and each parent. Several states are revising their approach to shared child custody and if the circumstances are conducive for a particular family, then the children may win in the end. Those parents in Pennsylvania who are struggling to find the best options for their individual needs may wish to seek the input of a compassionate and savvy family law attorney.
Source: watertowndailytimes.com, “Who gets the kids? New Study supports shared custody for children in divorce”, Gail Rosenblum, Oct. 11, 2017