There are so many decisions you have to make following a divorce. It would be easy for you and your former spouse to become overwhelmed figuring out how to split assets, how to divide sentimental possessions and how soon to sell the luxury house in the Florida Keys.
One decision the Institute for Family Studies is making much simpler is the monumental one about the kids. Whether or not you are splitting amicably or working hard to remain civil toward each other, the IFS says you should plan for joint custody of your children unless - and this is the one exception the IFS points out - the kids need your protection from an abusive parent. In that case, sharing custody may be completely off the table.
However, in most other situations, studies showed children benefit from having strong relationships with both parents. Researchers seemed somewhat surprised that even "sharing overnight parenting time" was not detrimental to the kids they studied. Some believe overnight stays strengthen your bonds with young ones so much that too much disruption in where children are staying would only weaken those developing ties. The studies showed differently.
Other surprises included that even when parents initially disagreed about sharing custody, children still fared better in the arrangement. It may take you awhile to get to an agreement through mediation or through court orders. In the research, it did not seem to matter how the parents settled the matter; what was important was children thrived more when parents gave in and agreed to a joint custody arrangement.
This information intends only to provide insight into joint custody and does not offer legal advice.