By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
While joint legal custody of children is a good solution in the majority of divorce and child custody proceedings, joint physical custody is not always possible – at least not joint physical custody with equal time to each parent.
The extenuating circumstances of location and work hours unfortunately play into the distribution of physical custody.
There are tremendous benefits to both parents and children for those lucky enough to be able to share equal parenting time:
1. Living in both households allows children to maintain strong, healthy relationships with both parents. In “Mom’s House, Dad’s House,” Isolina Ricci writes, “When children are free to love both their parents without conflict of loyalty, to have access to them both without fear of losing either, they can get on with the totally absorbing business of growing up, on schedule.”
2. Children benefit when their parents are cooperative and there is no extended legal wrangling.
If parents can force themselves to step outside their resentments and post-divorce disputes and work together for the benefit of their child, they are being good role models and preventing their child from believing that because his parents constantly argue about him, then he must be at fault.
Children assign blame differently than adults do. They are not able to separate themselves emotionally from their parents’ acrimony.
3. Joint physical custody lessens the traumatic sense of rejection and loss that a child feels when one parent moves out. Children who are allowed continuous access to both parents are less likely to suffer from feelings of loss, rejection and low self-esteem.
4. Children with access to only one parent express their anger in both subtle and direct ways. They are more anxious, depressed, and withdrawn.
5. Divorced parents who have joint physical custody of their children are seen by the children as being “good” and “bad,” which is the way that children from traditional families see their parents. There should be no “Disneyland Dad” vs. “Disciplinarian Mom” role modeling.
Both parents should have rules for their children and insist on them being followed. With continuity in household rules, children have less opportunity to pit one parent against the other parent.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.