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Is shared custody only good for certain types of families?

Most judges in Pennsylvania recognize the benefits to children of shared custody. Therefore, during a divorce proceeding, most will award shared custody in one form or another. 

Nevertheless, there is a prevailing belief that shared custody is more beneficial to some families than others. For example, the perception is that parents who have less conflict and/or more income are more likely to seek shared custody, and the outcomes are likely to be better than in lower-income, high conflict situations. However, a review of 54 studies of shared custody versus sole custody by the Institute for Family Studies demonstrated that children generally tend to do better in the former situation than the latter regardless of the following factors. 

Family income

The review demonstrated that, in the first place, there is not a significant difference between the incomes of parents who share custody and those who do not. In the second place, children in shared custody tend to have better outcomes than children in sole custody regardless of economic level. 

Parental conflict

Even in situations where there were high levels of conflict between parents, the outcomes were better for children in shared custody than for those who were not.

Child’s age

There is a commonly held belief that even if shared custody is better for older children, mothers should have sole custody of infants and toddlers lest overnights spent away from them weaken the bond between parent and child. However, there is no evidence that this is the case. 

Needless to say, there are situations in which shared custody may not be appropriate, particularly when one parent is negligent or abusive. However, the review of the studies effectively refutes many of the common arguments against shared custody. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.