Even amicable divorces are hard on everyone involved, especially the kids. Acrimonious divorces that make child custody the focus of all the former spouses’ conflict just make things worse for the children. Although each of you may want to eradicate the other from your lives, it’s important for your children’s well-being to consider these five ways joint custody benefits your child.

Remember that there are two types of custody: legal and physical. A court may award joint physical custody while leaving legal custody (the right and responsibility to make major life decisions involving schooling, religious upbringing, and health care decisions) with solely one parent. It’s possible for the court to decide the opposite, as well, giving both parents legal custody while giving just one parent physical custody. Here, we’ll discuss joint physical custody.

Puts the Focus on Parenting

One of the primary ways joint custody benefits your child is that it puts the focus on parenting, not on each ex-spouse’s individual problems or complaints. When the focus is on raising children together and doing what’s best for the kids, parents have the opportunity to put their individual differences and hurt feelings aside and concentrate on making the best life possible for their kids.

Helps Kids See Parents as Human

While some children, especially very young ones, don’t adjust well to switching between each parent’s house, kids who are grown enough to handle the back-and-forth have the opportunity to see both their parents as complete and flawed human beings.

Joint custody takes away the opportunity for one parent to swoop in occasionally and spend lavishly on presents or take the kids on wild adventures while the other parent is left holding the bag for making dentist appointments and enforcing piano practice. Kids see that both their parents struggle occasionally, get stressed out from work, and don’t always maintain a pristine home—they’re only human.

Reduces Stress and Fear

Children of divorce often worry about losing touch with one parent. This worry and fear can cause kids to act up or begin to fail in school. When kids know that their relationship with both parents is stable and reliable, they can relax into their new routine.

Presents a United Disciplinary Front

Joint custody forces parents to unite when it comes to discipline. Undermining one another when a child breaks the rules diminishes both parents’ authority in their children’s eyes and even encourages kids to cynically attempt to manipulate their parents, pitting one against the other to see who will be more lenient.

Improves Developmental Outcomes

Perhaps the best argument for joint custody is the demonstrably better life outcome for kids raised by both parents. Kids raised in single custody arrangements make up the majority of those that drop out of school, abuse drugs, run away, or end up in prison. Putting up with your ex in a joint custody arrangement seems a small price to pay to ensure your kids have the stability they need to grow into healthy, successful adults.

In West Texas, a parent seeking a divorce can consult child custody attorney Van Northern of the Northern Law Firm for advice on formulating an acceptable joint custody arrangement in divorce.