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What post-divorce living arrangement best avails kids?

There are of course myriad custody outcomes that are possible in a given divorce. Maybe a custody order dictates that "Johnny" live with mom, with dad having stated visitation rights and his child coming home with him on specified days each month. Or maybe the inverse of that is true.

Then, of course, shared legal custody and evolving parenting plans enable other arrangements, with Johnny perhaps even spending a few nights every week with each parent pursuant to a shared custody agreement.

What's preferable?

A recent Time article notes a common perception that has endured over time, namely this: Johnny is better off when he can avoid being constantly reshuffled between parents, with his well-being enhanced by the stability that comes from living in a single household. One parent should have primary custody, with the other parent having negotiated visitation rights.

Well, that's simply wrong, say Swedish researchers who took a close look at various custody arrangements involving nearly 150,000 children.

Their central finding: Kids aren't as adversely affected by back-and-forth movements between households as many adults believe is the case. In fact, kids that are in a shared custody situation where they spend ample amounts of time with both parents routinely are notably less stressed than are children who live primarily with one parent.

The bottom line, say the researchers, is that most children are best served by spending time living with both parents, regardless of how frenetic that can sometimes be. Regular parental contact is simply of vital importance to kids.

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