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Study shows kids may do best living with both divorced parents

New Jersey parents may be interested in a new study that shows children of divorced parents are less stressed when they spend time living with each parent. The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published the research on April 27.

In the study, Swedish researchers examined the reported psychosomatic health problems of 150,000 middle school kids in order to determine if children who split time between both parents suffered more stress than kids that lived with only one parent. Reported health issues included feelings of tension or sadness, sleep problems, loss of appetite, concentration difficulties, headaches, stomach problems and dizziness.

As expected, the study found that the 69 percent of kids who lived in nuclear families experienced the fewest psychosomatic health problems. However, the researchers were surprised to find that the 19 percent of kids who divided their time between divorced parents reported fewer health issues than the remaining children who lived with just one parent after a divorce. According to the study, girls reported more health problems than boys did, and they experienced sadness most frequently. Overall, sleep disruption was the top health issue for all children.

The authors of the study believe the results show kids are more stressed by being separated from one parent than they are by moving between households. Joint custody agreements have become more popular in Sweden over the past few decades. In the 1980s, only 1 percent of children with divorced parents spent time living with both. By 2010, the percentage had jumped to 40 percent. In the U.S., the number is less than 20 percent.

Any New Jersey parent who needs to arrange a child custody agreement may wish to consult with a family law attorney. An attorney could help negotiate an agreement that is in the child's best interests.

Source: TIME, "This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most," Mandy Oaklander, April 27, 2015

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