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How joint custody benefits you and your children

As you and your spouse continue to think about the possibility of obtaining an Illinois divorce, your children’s post-divorce welfare and happiness likely is at the top of each of your minds. Neither of you wants to hurt your children any more than they have to be by the breakup of their home, and both of you want to remain a constant, critical part of their lives. The last thing either of you likely wants is to become a stereotypical “Disneyland dad” – or mom – who sees his or her kids only on alternating weekends.

Given your respective feelings and concerns for your children, have the two of you considered joint custody of them? If not, you should. In the past decade or so, joint custody has become the post-divorce arrangement of choice for child psychologists, family law judges, divorce attorneys and divorced parents themselves across the nation.

Kids’ benefits

Now a recent study reveals what everyone has always known in their hearts. Kids really do benefit from having constant contact with and constant guidance from both parents. Specific benefits include the following:

  • Children whose parents have joint custody of them have less likelihood of developing post-divorce stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Their school grades do not suffer.
  • Their peer relationships remain good.
  • They have less likelihood of turning to alcohol, tobacco and/or illegal drugs.
  • They maintain their critical family and extended family relationships on both sides of the family, preserving their sense of belonging.

Parental benefits

As beneficial as joint custody is for your kids, you should not forget the benefits it provides you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Considering that you probably have years to go before your children grow up and go off to college, jobs or other adult pursuits, you and your ex face a long period during which you are “tied together,” whether or not you want to be. Joint custody makes this extended post-divorce period much more friendly and cooperative between you. Why? Because as you continue to work together for the best interests of your children, you likely will discover that both of you are “good” people after all, not the irritated, argumentative and possibly disagreeable people who ultimately could not live together amicably.

Admittedly, joint custody requires each of you to finally grow up and become a responsible adult if one or both of you has yet to achieve that status. At the very least, joint custody undoubtedly will, of necessity, reopen the channels of communication between you.

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