June 13, 2018 - Headnote

Is joint physical custody (JPC) linked to any better or worse outcomes for children than sole physical custody (SPC) after considering family income and parental conflict? In the 60 studies published in English in academic journals or in government reports, 34 studies found that JPC children had better outcomes on all of the measures of behavioral, emotional, physical, and academic well-being and relationships with parents and grandparents. In 14 studies, JPC children had equal outcomes on some measures and better outcomes on others compared to SPC children. In 6 studies JPC and SPC children were equal on all measures. In 6 studies, JPC children were worse on one of the measures than SPC children, but equal or better on all other measures. In the 25 studies that considered family income, JPC children had better outcomes on all measures in 18 studies, equal to better outcomes in 4 studies, equal outcomes in 1 study, and worse outcomes on one measure but equal or better outcomes on other measures in 2 studies. In the 19 studies that included parental conflict, JPC children had better outcomes on all measures in 9 studies,equal to better outcomes in 5 studies, equal outcomes in 2 studies, and worse outcomes on one measure but equal or better outcomes on other measures in 3 studies. In sum, independent of family income or parental conflict, JPC is generally linked to better outcomes for children.

Linda Nielsen (2018): Joint versus sole physical custody: Outcomes for children independent of family income or parental conflict, Journal of Child Custody, DOI: 10.1080/15379418.2017.1422414