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Joint child custody and support can help children, research says

Raising children can be difficult for any family, but challenges can increase when parents are not together. Many Alberta divorcees have conflicts over child custody and support. Research shows that shared parenting where both parents play a significant role can be positive for child development, even if the relationship between the parents is strained.

Mothers are awarded full physical custody in the majority of court-ordered custody cases. While sometimes these child custody and support decisions are made for safety or welfare reasons under Alberta family law, other times this arrangement is chosen in an attempt to keep the child away from conflict. Many people presume that children are better off with only one party during a tough divorce because joint custody could lead to loyalty conflicts and turmoil in a child's life. However, new research shows that being privy to disagreements between parents may be much less damaging to a child than missing out on a parental figure.

Despite commonly held beliefs, this new research shows that high conflict between divorced parents and poor coparenting does not always lead to poor outcomes in childrens' lives. Instead, the strength of both parent-child relationships are a much better indicator of how a child will develop in a divorced family. Statistics show that children in shared custody arrangements have lower rates of drug use and teen pregnancy, as well as better school performance.

Divorces can be filled with difficult decisions and conflict, especially where child custody and support are concerned. Understanding how family law works in Alberta and what parenting options exist following a divorce are important first steps. A lawyer with experience in such matters is an important resource for anyone working through such issues.

Source: The Toronto Star, "For children of divorced parents, quality of parent-child relationships trumps everything else", Gail Rosenblumstar, Sept. 7, 2017

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