Divorced Kentucky parents who opt for joint custody may be making the best decision for their children according to dozens of studies. Research has shown that children who spend at least 35 percent of their time with each parent, as opposed to living with one parent and visiting the other, are healthier socially and psychologically. They do better in school and are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs or smoke. They are also less prone to depression and anxiety.
In the 1970s, a divorce might have meant that a father had only limited contact with his children. Over the next few decades, there was a shift toward visitation rights, but children still tended to live primarily with one parent, and that was usually the mother.
Some people have argued that shared custody only works if both parents are in favor of it and that its success is linked to higher incomes. However, when a psychology professor at Wake Forest University examined the data, she found that children got the same benefits even if there was a great deal of conflict between parents or if one parent was initially opposed to the arrangement. Furthermore, there did not appear to be a link between parental income and the success of joint custody.
There are a few situations in which a parent might oppose joint custody. For example, if the other parent has substance abuse issues or there has been domestic abuse, the parent may want to raise these issues with an attorney. The other parent may only be allowed supervised visitation. However, in other cases, parents may want to consider shared physical custody even if they differ significantly on some issues. It may be possible to address potential conflict in a parenting plan that can act as a blueprint for co-parenting.