Joint custody is best in a divorce, new research suggests.
Children have less behavioural problems and psychological symptoms after their parents separate if they do not live with just their mother or father, a study found.
From a parents’ perspective, there is no difference in symptoms between youngsters growing up in a traditional family living arrangement and those whose mother and father share custody, the research adds.
Study author Dr Malin Bergström from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, told MailOnline: ‘It is beneficial for children to have everyday contact with their parents. Parental quality often improves if they see their children often rather than just on the weekends.
‘It may be more important to have parental quality than a stable home where a child is living with both their mother and father.’
Joint custody is best in a divorce, new research suggests (stock image)
DIVORCE BLAMED AS MORE MIDDLE-AGED WOMEN SUFFER EATING DISORDERS
Divorce may be triggering eating disorders in middle-aged women, experts say.
They warn women in their forties are in danger of bulimia and anorexia from life changes including a marriage breakdown and the death of a parent.
A study by University College London and Icahn School of Medicine in New York earlier this year found that 15 per cent of middle-aged women have battled an eating disorder and almost a quarter of these have suffered in the past year.
It was previously thought that by middle age women had passed the ‘window of risk’ for eating disorders, which are most frequently associated with teenagers.
The higher-than-expected figures are being blamed, at least in part, on emotional upheaval in later life.
How the research was carried out
Researchers from Uppsala University, Karolinska Institute and the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Sweden analysed 3,656 children aged between three and five years old.
Of the study’s participants, 136 children live in joint parental custody; 3,369 in a traditional family; 79 with mostly one parent; and 72 reside exclusively with either their mother or father.
Any of the children’s behavioural problems and psychological symptoms were assessed via a questionnaire completed by their parents and teachers.
The questionnaire covered emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity or inattention and peer-relationship problems.
Parents living with one parent have more psychological symptoms
Results reveal children living with mostly or exclusively one parent have more behavioural problems and psychological symptoms than those in joint custody or a traditional family set up.
From a parents’ perspective, there is no difference between youngsters in a traditional family living arrangement and those in joint parental custody.
Yet, children’s teachers report youngsters from traditional families are better behaved.
Dr Bergström told MailOnline: ‘It is beneficial for children to have everyday contact with their parents. Parental quality often improves if they see their children often rather than just on the weekends.
‘It may be more important to have parental quality than a stable home where a child is living with both their mother and father.
‘Parents shouldn’t hesitate to decide on this practice if they feel it will be good for their family. Children may find it stressful to lose contact with someone who is important to them.
‘However, this wouldn’t be suitable in all cases, it depends on the parental quality and their relationship to the child.’
The findings will be published in the journal Acta Pædiatrica.