Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 59:5 (2018), pp. 452–468.

doi: 10.1080/10502556.2018.1454203


Copyright © 2018 Taylor & Francis/Routledge. Used by permission.


Policymakers and researchers are concerned with whether joint physical custody (JPC) produces better outcomes for children than sole custody. Although several review articles summarizing up to 61 empirical articles demonstrate very positive answers, many of the research designs used compromise the ability to claim that it is JPC per se—and not selection effects—that causes the effect. We discuss several research design issues, such as propensity score analysis, that can more powerfully probe the question of causality. Some studies have already been conducted employing these strategies and more are recommended and likely to soon be forthcoming. On the basis of this comprehensive review we conclude that JPC probably does cause benefits to children on average, and that social scientists can now provisionally recommend rebuttably presumptive JPC to policymakers.

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