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When two Washington parents decide that they want a divorce, the situation can be extremely stressful for any children involved. Many parents decide that their children should live full time with one parent while being allowed to visit the other in order to reduce stress and provide a stable environment. However, a recently-published study that was conducted in Sweden indicated that this living arrangement may actually contribute to the stress that many children with divorced parents feel.

The researchers studied data that was collected from 150,000 students of the ages of 12 and 15. Approximately 69 percent of the students that were studied lived in nuclear families, while 13 percent lived with a parent who had sole custody. The remainder split their time between both divorced parents. The researchers were interested in studying whether the students suffered from certain psychosomatic health problems that could be associated with stress, including loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping or concentrating and feelings of sadness, among others.

The results showed that students who lived in nuclear families or who spent time living with both parents reported fewer problems associated with stress. For those who did report symptoms, the most frequent problem appeared to be sleep problems and feelings of sadness. Researchers believed that the positive results exhibited by children in joint custody arrangements could be due to having a second parent who is more engaged with their child. Additionally, the children often have access to more resources.

While there certainly are situations where it is beneficial for a parent to have sole custody of a child, such as in domestic abuse or addiction cases, it is often in the child's best interest that they maintain relationships with both parents. An attorney may assist a parent who is seeking joint custody by demonstrating the relationship between the child and parent.