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Do children suffer because of shared physical custody?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Child Custody |

Shared physical custody of children of divorced couples in Maryland and the metro Washington, D.C. area has been the norm in the 21st century as most parents want to remain involved in their children’s lives. Yet, is shared physical custody in their children’s best interest? Some research seems to indicate that’s not so.

Children suffer the brunt of emotional fallout

Shared child custody has become the norm as society views it as fair to both parents. However, when going from one residence to the other, children eventually learn that they are more comfortable at one parent’s home over the other. This situation sometimes leads them to act in psychologically inappropriate ways at the other parent’s house. What happens in these instances is that children must perform a role reversal where they tend to the emotional needs of the parents. Many children feel emotionally overwhelmed and experience anxiety, depression, academic failure and reduced self-esteem.

The cause of this distress is the physicality of having to live in two separate homes. Another reason involves parents who send subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle messages requesting to put their emotional needs first. The emotional pressure leaves children confused and wondering who they put first, themselves or the parent pressuring them.

Do we need to modify our child custody order?

Many people believe that child custody modifications should only occur if children are in danger when with one parent. That scenario isn’t necessarily true. In some situations, children will tell one parent when they are uncomfortable with the other parent. You need to listen to your children, discover the problem, and act accordingly for those circumstances. Remembering to listen to your children and attend to their needs is critical.

How do you resolve this problem, especially if one or more of your children put their foot down and proclaim they want to live with the other parent? In short, you listen. Working with psychologists to smooth over the differences can help. Keeping the focus on your children’s needs is paramount in these situations.