THE TRUTH About Joint Custody


Joint custody reduces conflict because both parents are able to maintain a strong relationship with their children. 
If you were only allowed to see your child four days a month, how would you feel?  Conflict is almost inevitable when
one parent fights for sole custody, denying the other parent a role in raising the child.  Sole custody causes conflict,
while joint custody helps to reduce it.

Joint custody helps parents cooperate for the sake of the children.  Custody battles are, of course, about
who will raise the child.  When both parents are able to maintain their role as parents, instead of one parent and
one "visitor", they can focus on what is best for the child, rather than fighting to either retain control as the only
parent, or to regain their role as a parent.

Joint custody is not a panacea, but it is so effective in maintaining a child's relationship with both parents that
outcomes for children are much better than for sole custody, and in most ways do not differ from an intact family.

Children do best when they are able to retain a relationship with both parents.  Most parents recognize the
importance of both being involved in raising their children.  Active involvement of both parents is just as important
if parents are separated or divorced.

Joint physical custody does not reduce material and financial support for children.  Financial child support
is determined using a sliding scale to adjust for time spent with parents and differences in parent incomes.  Allowing
both parents to remain involved means money can be spent on the children, rather than costly legal battles.

Joint custody most closely resembles an intact family.   Children unavoidably have two homes as a result of
divorce, but they do best when they can keep the emotional ties with both parents - because they have two parents,
instead of one "real parent" and one "former parent." 
Emotional ties and family relationships are more important than

Following are excerpts from the American Psychological Association report to the US Commission on Child and
Family Welfare, which is public record.  The full report and more recent research can be found on the
CRC research page here.

Empirical Research describing Outcomes of Joint Custody
              American Psychological Association

Best Interest of the Child Standard

The research that included child adjustment criteria concerning the study of joint custody will be
used relevant to this issue. The two studies with the best methodology (Buchanan, Maccoby, &
Dombush, 199 1; Burnett, 199 1) indicated that joint custody versus sole maternal custody was
associated with adolescents’ positive adjustment. This finding was replicated for children by
Abarbanel(l979). Greif (1979), and Luepnitz (1986) but not Johnston, Kline & Tschann (1989)
and Kline, Tschann, Johnston & Wallerstein (1989). It is concluded that the present research
supports joint custody for facilitating children’s adjustment.

Child Support
Kelly (1994) pointed out that feminists are opposed to joint custody due to concern that child
support to mothers will be reduced when compared to sole maternal custody. The consensus of
studies that addressed this issue found that child support to mothers is either increased in joint
custody families or not significantly different from those with sole maternal custody (Arditti,
1992a; Emery & Wyer, 1987; Emery, Matthews, & Wyer, 1991; Luepnitz, 1986; and Shrier,
Simring, Shapiro, 1991).

Relitigation and Costs to the Family
The emotional and financial relitigation costs to families and judicial systems is often cited by both
proponents and opponents regarding joint custody. The studies reviewed that investigated this
issue consistently indicated decreased relitigation for joint custody versus sole maternal custody
(Dudley, 1991; Emery & Wyer, 1987; Emery, Matthews, & Wyer 1991; and Luepnitz, 1986).

Parental Conflict
The replicated finding and the weight of evidence were that joint custody results in either less
or no
greater conflict than sole maternal custody (Albiston et al., 1990; Arditti, 1992a; Buchanan et al.,
1991; Burnett, 1991; Greiff, 1979; Kline et al., 1989; Luepnitz, 1986; and Maccoby et al., 1990).
The earlier review of decreased relitigation for joint custody versus sole maternal custody also
supports this conclusion. The sole exception to these findings was by Johnston, Kline and Tschann
(1989) but as Ferreiro (1990) pointed out, this study included a biased sample of divorced families
referred due to high conflict.