Joint Custody: a Foundation for Adjustment

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Chapter 11
A. One current trend in the outcome of divorce negotiation is joint custody arrangements. What do you think are the pros and cons of such arrangements? Are they confusing, or do children manage to get the best (and maybe the worst) or both worlds? Thompson (1994) claims that “joint custody presents the possibility that each family member can ‘win’ in post-divorce life” (textbook, page 452). In opposition to single-parent custody scenarios, both parents and children have the opportunity, in joint custody situations, to benefit from the individual time with each other in a more stable, less conflicted environment. When the parents agree on basic child-rearing principles, such as discipline, children have the added opportunity of experiencing stability and consistency from the parents and can avoid the problems associated with one parent being declared the better or more suitable parent according to an outside party. In addition, frequent visits with each parent leads to better bonding, quicker acceptance and better adjustment to the new marital situation for the child. We have friends currently going through this process and as difficult as the decisions have been, they are both fully committed to bringing up their sons, aged 5 and 8, as a unit rather than individuals with different rules for each of their houses. In speaking to both parents, together and separately, they have realised the importance of stability and support for the children in each of their neighbourhoods, and for this reason, the father is actually moving back to their previous neighbourhood so that the children have friends and relatives nearby at both the mother and father’s houses. There are significant benefits to joint custody decisions. Joint legal custody allows both parents to share legal and decision-making responsibilities for their children’s lives, but children still live with one decided parent. Joint physical custody, which is the better option for both parents and...
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