Parents who are separating or going through a divorce are often put to the difficult task of determining custody. While some people are able to negotiate child custody terms on their own, others must put the issue in the hands of a court-appointed judge. Although some people believe that sole-custody may be in the best interest of the children, studies show that joint-custody may be better for a child’s development.

A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health reported that children who spend a significant amount of time with both parents experience less stress than those who spend the majority of time with one parent. They found that many children in sole-custody situations experienced certain health problems, including stomachaches, sleeping problems, headaches, loss of appetite, sadness and difficulty concentrating.

Another study published in the Journal of Family Psychology reported that children who spent substantial time with both parents displayed a higher self-esteem, had better school performance, better family relationships and emotional health. The meta-analysis looked at more than 800 kids from joint-custody families and 1,800 kids from sole-custody families, as well as children who live with intact families.

One aspect of the studies looks at a child’s need to be with both parents, as each parent is important in their own way. While mothers may be more caring, nurturing and loving, fathers often make children feel safe and support them while they try new things. Both are critical to the development of a child. People should keep this in mind when determining the best interests of the children.

This information is intended to education and should not be taken as legal advice.