Illustration: Lotta Sjöberg

Illustration: Lotta Sjöberg

The research project Elvis has studied the wellbeing of children in joint physical custody since 2011. The results of these and other Swedish studies have now been summarized in a research outline from the Centre for Health Equity Studies, CHESS, a research centre with researchers from Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet. Emma Fransson is one of the researchers involved in the project.

Comparative study

“We have mainly studied the wellbeing of children in joint physical custody compared to children living with both parents, and children living with one parent. The results of our studies – and other Swedish ones – show that schoolchildren in joint physical custody often reported better mental health and wellbeing than their peers living with one parent. Best health overall can be found in children living with both parents. None of the studies show that the health of children in joint physical custody is worse than of those living with only one parent”, Emma Fransson at CHESS says.

Good relationships with both parents important

One explanation for the finding that children in joint physical custody have better health than those living with only one parent, is that children whose parents have severe problems, such as mental illness or substance abuse, often live alone with one parent. Families with joint physical custody have generally also better economic and material resources than those where the children live with one parent. Another explanation is that children in joint physical custody often make good relationships possible with both parents.

“Having a good relationship with your parents has a huge impact on the health, development and school performance of a child. Joint physical custody provides good conditions for it, says Emma Fransson.

Facts about the Elvis project

  • The research of the Elvis project has focused on the health and well-being of children in joint physical custody during the school years, using major nationally or regionally representative survey data.
  • The project has also highlighted the experiences of joint physical custody of parents with children in preschool age.
  • The report of the Elvis project and a review of other studies on children in joint physical custody was published in December and is available on the Elvis project website