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Sociol Inq. 2011;81(2):247-59.

Joint physical custody and neighborhood friendships in middle childhood.

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University of Utah, Salt Lake City.


Almost half of first marriages end in divorce, which in turn may produce joint physical custody arrangements. Seen by many states to be in the best interest of the child, joint physical custody is increasingly common. Yet much is unknown about its consequences for children. This article considers how joint physical custody arrangements affect children’s neighborhood friendships, an important component of child well-being because of their contributions to social and cognitive development. Thirteen parents and 17 children (aged 5–11) in 10 families, selected via convenience and snowball sampling, participated in semistructured interviews. The findings suggest that joint physical custody arrangements do not imperil children’s neighborhood friendships; indeed, most children and parents interviewed voiced contentment in this area.

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