Publication Date

Spring 4-26-2024


School of Behavioral Sciences




Joint-custody arrangements, divorce, long-term impacts, children of divorce, young adults


Social and Behavioral Sciences


Due to a growing diversity of family structures, children grow up in a variety of living arrangements, especially if their parents are separated or divorced. The most common solution for these divorced families is joint custody or dual-residence arrangements, where children spend up to 50% of their time in each parent's household. The current literature on the effects of joint custody arrangements shows mixed results for children's overall adjustment and well-being, which seem to depend more on moderating factors like the child's age, exposure to interparental conflict, and parent-child relationship quality. This thesis reviews the existing literature on the advantages and disadvantages of joint custody arrangements for children and then investigates the long-term perceptions of young adults based on their childhood experiences with this living arrangement. Through semi-structured interviews, young adults reflect on their past experience and discuss their current perceptions to show how time has changed their views on joint custody arrangements. The participants generally disliked their living arrangement as children because of logistical challenges and psychological and emotional distress. However, as young adults, the participants developed a more positive view of their joint custody arrangements based on the following themes: increased understanding of the reason for divorce, greater empathy for their parents, developed responses to change, and evidence of personal growth. The results concluded that perceptions of joint custody arrangements do change over time, opening avenues for further research and application of therapeutic interventions that can potentially improve children’s experience of joint custody arrangements.