In Texas, we have the Standard Possession Schedule, passed down to us by our Austin parenting experts, the Texas Legislature. It generally provides for the “non-primary” parent to have possession of the children alternating weekends, some summer time, and split the holidays. So, the child lives primarily with one parent and “visits” (yes, we still use that word in Texas divorces) with the other parent. Studies show this arrangement may not be the best thing for kids who are unwittingly subject to the parents’ divorce.
A new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (Fifty Moves a Year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?) suggests that children are mentally healthiest when they are able to split their time with both divorced parents. Children who lived primarily with one parent had higher rates of sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches, tension, and sadness. On the other hand, children who lived for periods of time with both parents reported significantly fewer problems.
So, stability in housing was less of a factor for these children than the stability of their relationships with both parents.
The study also emphasized that kids become the most stressed out by the level of angry fighting between parents. It is not the parental separation or the divorce itself that causes kids stress. It’s the conflict and how the parents manage the conflict.
NOTE: The Texas Legislature has pending before it currently a HB 2363 that proposes to make “equal time” the standard in Texas instead of the Standard Possession Schedule. This bill remains in committee, so it seems unlikely that it will make it through before the end of the month, but it is one to watch.
Hat tip to Beth Greenfield’s article on Yahoo The Divorce Custody Arrangement that Benefits Kids the Most.