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Shared residency ‘cuts mental health problems’ in children

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Young people who divide their time between their parents after divorce enjoy better mental health, new research suggests.

Researchers at RKBU Vest (the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare) in Bergen, Norway, compared different living arrangements made by divorced parents for their children.

A total of 7700 children were polled on the parents’ divorce, the family’s circumstances and which parents they had spent time with since the split. The mental health of each participant was also assessed.

The team found a distinct difference: those living in shared care arrangements struggled with fewer mental health issues than those living with stepfamilies or single parents.

Researcher Sondre Aasen Nilsen added:

“Furthermore, we found that youths with joint residency did not have more mental problems than young people living with their two non-divorced parents.”

This was the largest study ever undertaken in Norway on living arrangements for children after divorce, and the first to look at the topic in more than 20 years. Nilsen explained:

“We have therefore lacked information about how young people adapt in different residency arrangements today, following the large increase in families who choose a shared residency scheme.”

It was published by Norwegian research institute Uni Research.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Helen Dudden says:

    Having had personal involvement in Child Access the above article shows clearly what’s been the case for many years. Once the bond is broken it’s hard to fix. What ever the reason.
    Children take the blame, their young minds not able to cope with on going battles over them. Anorexia and self harming is one side effect. Lack of confidence and difficulty forming relationships, being able to trust.
    In the future, it’s up to the courts to make sure a child is totally protected, this includes courts in other countries. It can’t be perfect, but there is much room for improvement.

  2. Carol Gordon Ekster says:

    I appreciate this article. Learning to co-parent is a difficult part of a divorce with children.But it is so much better when both parents can each consistenly touch their children’s lives. I taught 4th grade for 35 years and always felt children’s pain when their family went through a divorce. I started writing children’s books at the end of my career and the first book published was WHERE AM I SLEEPING TONIGHT? (A Story of Divorce), Boulden Publishing, 2008. It is the only book for elementary school children that deals with shared custody. I believe it allows families to discuss their situation and offers hope. Thanks for this article.

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