Research studies sponsored by the Australian government raise troubling implications for rotating physical custody arrangements with roughly equal timesharing with children after divorce or separation.
In a nutshell, the studies conclude that young children are happier and do better developmentally living primarily with only one of their parents.
More specifically, babies up to two years old having overnights away from their primary caregiver tend to be more irritable, experience separation anxiety and cling to the parent who is their primary caregiver.
Toddlers from two to three years old having several overnights away from their primary caregiver also tend to experience separation anxiety, as well as more turmoil, eating disorders, aggression and difficulties maintaining concentration.
After three or four years of living with rotating physical custody with roughly equal timesharing, children tend to exhibit poorer attention spans and focus, and boys tend to suffer from clinical ADHD.
More generally, fixed rotating physical custody with roughly equal timesharing schedules, such as are spelled out in court orders, correlate with symptoms of depression and anxiety in young children and are disliked by the children – and their mothers.
The only ones who favor rotating physical custody arrangements with roughly equal timesharing are generally fathers.
The head researcher concludes that rotating physical custody with roughly equal timesharing adversely affects emotional and behavioral development in young children, and that having a primary residence benefits young children.
For children four years and older though, the children’s difficulties are attributed to parental conflict and detached parenting rather than rotating physical custody arrangements with roughly equal timesharing.