CUSTODY ARRANGEMENT AND CHILDREN'S ADJUSTMENT AFTER PARENTAL SEPARATION (JOINT CUSTODY)
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This study was designed to examine the effects of joint custody vs. sole parent custody on children's adjustment after parental separation. There is considerable evidence in the literature that the global impact of separation on children is adverse. Very little research, however, has focused specifically on custody arrangement and its effect on the child's functioning. The present study proposed three hypotheses: Joint custody children will have better self-images, will be more socialy self-confident and will perform higher academically than the sole custody children. These predictions were based on the presumed salutary effects of paternal involvement and the less burdened mother available to the child in the joint custody arrangement.;The subjects were seventeen joint custody children and thirteen sole custody children ranging in age from eight to twelve. The joint custody children lived approximately half time with each parent and the sole custody children lived full time with their mothers and visited with their fathers approximately four days each month. All subjects were from at least middle income families in which custody had not been disputed and were of normal intelligence. Other characteristics of the sample included non-clinic involvement, at least one year had elapsed since the separation and all fathers remained involved with their children, including the non-custodial fathers in the sole custody group.;The following measures were administered to each subject: PPVT Form A, Piers-Harris Children's Self Concept Scale, and the Children's Social Desirability Questionnaire (CSD). Standardized reading and math scores and/or teacher evaluations of these subject areas were obtained. Each parent completed a questionnaire devised for this study in order to provide background information.;The three hypotheses were not substantiated. There were no significant differences between the joint custody and the sole custody children in the areas of self-image, social self-confidence and academic achievement. Noteworthy results, however, included the finding that joint custody children, although not higher functioning, were as well adjusted as sole custody children. In addition, both groups were comparable to children in previous studies on the Piers-Harris and the CSD from intact homes, and none of the children was below grade level. This suggests that where certain variables do not exist, such as poverty and paternal neglect, that children do recuperate from parental separation over a period of time.
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