Shared Parenting After Divorce: Please Share Research and Your Personal Experience

Is shared parenting best for the children of divorce?

Posted Feb 27, 2012

This is a call to my fellow Psychology Today bloggers and other readers who are familiar with research on care for children after divorce—or those who have pertinent personal experiences to relate.

The Massachusetts-based organization Fathers & Families is pushing for a shared-parenting bill in Massachusetts. The following is from its appeal to the public:

Shared parenting is best for children in families with two parents living together and for children where the parents are living apart through no fault of the children. Anything less than the presumption of shared parenting in the family courts not only penalizes innocent children, but it causes many of the problems our children suffer in today’s society.

Shared parenting is simply a collaborative arrangement in which both parents share custody of their children. It is the best solution for most separated, divorced, and never-married families. It provides children ample time with both parents and, just as important, with both extended families. Through a ballot initiative, over 86% of Massachusetts voters have already stated that they want shared parenting. 

Identify yourself as a member of Fathers and Families. Let them know that Fathers and Families’ mission is to improve the lives of children and strengthen society by protecting the child’s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. 

As a divorced father who had difficulty seeing his teenage children during and after a divorce, this seems reasonable to me. But I'm not sure what the research shows, or what parents' experiences have been.

Please use this post as an occasion to comment on research, on personal experience, or on any other policy developments related to shared parenting. Is this psychologically beneficial for kids? Is it wise policy? How does it affect divorce settlements and parent conflict?

Joseph Nowinski and Sam Margulies have weighed in on the topic here, as have others.

I ask, of course, that discussion be civil and thoughtful. We should all benefit.