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Study shows kids do best living with both parents after divorce

Massachusetts residents might be interested in a new study that indicates children of divorced couples suffer less stress when they spend time living with both parents. The research appears in the April 27 edition of the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

The study, conducted by Swedish researchers, looked at the psychosomatic health problems of 150,000 middle school children in order to discover if kids who spent time living with both parents experienced more stress than those who lived with one parent. The results showed that the 69 percent of kids who lived in nuclear families had the fewest psychosomatic issues. Surprisingly, the children who lived with both of their parents after a divorce had the next fewest issues, and those who lived with only one parent after a divorce experienced the most issues. The psychosomatic issues that were reported included difficulty concentrating, sleep issues, loss of appetite, headaches, stomach aches, dizziness and feeling sad or tense. Girls reported more issues than boys, and children of both genders reported sleep issues more often than any other problem.

The researchers believe the study suggests that children are more stressed by living apart from one parent than they are by frequently moving between households. In Sweden, joint custody agreements have risen sharply in popularity over the past 30 years. In the United States, however, less than 20 percent live with both estranged parents in a shared arrangement.

A Massachusetts parent who is in a child custody dispute may benefit by consulting with a lawyer who has experience in family law matters. The lawyer can in some cases help a client demonstrate that shared parenting is in the best interests of the child.

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