Part II: study examines challenges of shared parenting

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, March 8, 2012

In yesterday’s post, we discussed some of the results of a new study looking at shared parenting arrangements. Like any study, it gives generalized information and shouldn’t be applied to individuals in their unique situations.

But for St. Louis parents in high-conflict relationships who are thinking ahead to divorce and the child custody disputes that might well accompany the split, this Australian study can give some insights into what has happened with the 133 parents in the four-year study.

Though the families in the study all had shared parenting arrangements, not all were in a 50-50 split of time with their children. Forty-one percent had one parent has the primary residential caregiver and stuck with that arrangement throughout the four years of the study.

Another 27 percent had the shared parenting arrangement and kept to it for the duration of the study as well.

However, 18 percent began the four-year period in a shared parenting arrangement and then shifted to a primary set-up, while 14 percent began with a primary caregiver set-up and switched to shared parenting.

All of the parents went through mediation. Think about this, though: prior to mediation, there was an approximate 60-40 split in arrangements, 60 percent chose a primary residential custody arrangement and about 40 percent chose equal, shared parenting.

After mediation, there was a surge toward shared parenting arrangements: 57 percent of the couples went with that arrangement, with the remaining 43 percent going with a primary arrangement.

The Illinois professor writing about the study for the Huffington Post notes that a year later, the numbers were back to where they were prior to mediation: 60 percent in primary set-ups and 40 in shared.

What conclusions does the professor draw from the study? He says despite their high level of conflict, 40 percent of parents were making shared arrangements work. He also noted that 20 percent of those who tried sharing simply couldn’t find a way to keep the arrangement viable.

He says that perhaps with more support, more parents will be able to make shared parenting arrangements successful.

Source: Huffington Post: “What Happens To Shared Parenting Arrangements Among High-Conflict Couples Over Time?,” Robert Hughes Jr., March 6, 2012

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