VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

Overcoming co-parenting misconceptions

Eighty percent of court-ordered child custody cases see mothers awarded full physical custody of their children

While it seems to be a safe assumption that the statistic is outdated, the percentage reflects the current year. A vast majority of decisions see children in mom’s household for stability while dad is left with the standard one night a week and every other weekend.

Many family law court judges continue this inequity due to a belief that has continued for decades. Conflict between parents will create an overwhelming level of stress for children. Subsequently, sons and daughters of divorce find themselves in the middle of disagreements with many forced to swear an oath of loyalty for one parent over the other.

Simply put, the belief remains that co-parenting is the problem, not the solution.

Wake Forest University’s Linda Nielsen, an adolescent and educational psychology professor who has researched father-daughter bonds for more than a quarter century, decided to reexamine the divorce-driven dynamic.

In her research, published in “Psychology, Public Policy, and Law,” a journal of the American Psychological Association, Nielsen re-examined 44 studies that covered conflict in divorce and the effects on children.

She specifically looked at the following factors:

  • The benefits to children when co-parenting has less conflict and more cooperation
  • The outcomes for children when custody disputes go to court versus parents who reach an agreement without conflict
  • Children who live with each parent 35 percent of the time in shared custody agreements and the effects of their parents working as a team
  • Parents in shared arrangements having less conflict and more “communicative, cooperative co-parenting relationships.”

Nielsen sees the issues over conflicts to be exaggerated, particularly when parents sometimes amplify or provoke conflict to secure sole custody. More importantly, that conflict only lasts a few years when custody decisions often encompass an entire childhood.

She concluded that the cooperation of both mother and father is a driving force in the parent-child relationship, more so than the parents’ relationship with each other.

Nielsen believes that serving the best interests of the children requires joint physical custody options to exist, not dismissed out of hand. Programs and policies should strengthen the child-parent bond while reducing the exposure to parent-on-parent conflict.

For help from lawyers who focus on your children’s best interests in custody-related matters, contact VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP, at 606-618-0698.

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