138 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 37: 1 2017]
spiteful and most respectful toward one another. 77 In these very limited circumstances, parents
were able to maintain a joint custody agreement throughout the four years of the study. 78
Families who were unable to maintain a joint custody arrangement also shared qualities
similar to one another. In these families, the father generally had lower educational
accomplishments, the children were at least eleven years old when joint custody was
implemented, the children reported lower emotional bonds with their father when the
arrangement began, and the mothers had a high level of animosity toward the child’s father. 79
Because these characteristics are broader, more families would likely fall into this category; thus,
it is probable that most families would not be able to sustain a joint custody arrangement for
many years. 80
In some of the families, the father became an absent figure altogether; in all of these cases,
the father reported very high and consistent levels of conflict throughout the course of the study
with the other parent. 81 This finding supported the vast literature that correlates sustained levels
of high conflict to the eventual loss of contact between one parent and the child. 82
2. The Child’s Perspective
Though parents in the study generally reported they were content with the joint custody
arrangement by the end of the four-year period, the children in joint custody arrangements were
the unhappiest of all the children in different living arrangements. 83 The child’s displeasure and
frustration with joint custody remained present even when the parents did not adopt a rigid
77 Post-Separation, supra note 63, at 42.
80 See id. at 42.
82 Dush, Kotila & Schoppe-Sullivan, supra note 61.