This section will assert that the Social Science Research that is relied upon to support
joint custody is unclear and that, even if the research were reliable, the alleged correlation
between children in joint custody faring better than children in sole custody arrangements does
not necessarily signify that children fare better because they are in joint custody arrangements.
1. Social Science Research is Unclear
Typically, the Social Science research relied upon in the field of custody is imprecise.
Though critical assumptions and claims are publically drawn from these studies, the studies
remain ambiguous and seem, at times, misleading.
a. Lack of Clearly Defined Terms
Social Science studies comparing joint custody and sole custody fail to clearly define
what constitutes joint and/or sole custody.206 Because these definitions change from jurisdiction
to jurisdiction in law, it is possible that a 70/30 arrangement could be seen as joint custody in
some cases, while the same arrangement could be seen as sole custody in others. It remains
uncertain whether the Social Science studies mirror the lack of uniformity in the legal definitions
regarding custodial arrangements or whether the studies have their own criteria set forth to
determine which custodial arrangement falls into a particular category.207
206 Some studies also refer to “shared” parenting; it is unclear whether “shared parenting” is used in place of “joint
custody” for the purposes of these studies or whether they are entirely different. See Dr. Linda Nielson, Parenting
Time & Shared Residential Custody: Ten Common Myths, THE NEB. LAWYER (Jan./Feb. 2013),
http://www.acfc.org/acfc/assets/documents/Articles/Nebraska%20Lawyer%20Magazine.pdf; Michelle Griffin,
Shared Custody A Mistake for the Under-2s, Say Guidelines, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Dec. 15, 2011),
1ouy6.html; Mandy Oaklander, This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most, TIME (April 27, 2015),
207 See Edward Kruk, Ph.D., Research Consensus Statement on Co-Parenting After Divorce, PSYCHOL. TODAY (July
28, 2014), https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201407/research-consensus-