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Study shows benefits of joint parenting arrangements

A recently-published study on the benefits of joint parenting agreements may be of interest to parents in North Carolina. Conducted by researchers in Sweden, the study looked at the prevalence of psychosomatic symptoms, such as sleep issues, stomach problems, headaches and issues with concentration, in children living in nuclear families, joint custody situations or with just one parent who had sole custody after a divorce. The study found that children living in a sole custody arrangement had higher rates of psychosomatic symptoms than children in nuclear families or those who split time between their divorced parents in joint custody arrangements.

In Sweden, about 40 percent of divorced parents had a joint parenting system in place in 2010, compared to 20 percent in the United States. Many parents believe that children experience more stress when they are forced to move from one household to another frequently, but the parenting study suggests that children have better stress levels and overall mental health when they have regular time with both of their parents.

The study looked at data on psychosomatic problems of 150,000 students in 6th and 9th grades. The researchers found that girls more commonly experience psychosomatic symptoms, especially sadness, but sleeping issues tend to be the most common problem among young adults.

For child custody plans, courts require that parents include certain types of information, including visitation schedules, when they work together. If they cannot come to a consensus, judges may have to make a ruling on custody arrangements. With joint parenting plans, the child's time is usually split between two households on a roughly equal basis. A family law attorney may be able to provide assistance to a client in negotiating a plan that will be approved by the court.

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