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The purpose of the systematic review was to synthesize the literature on children’s outcomes across different living arrangements (nuclear families, shared physical custody [SPC], lone physical custody [LPC]) by extracting and structuring relevant theoretical hypotheses (selection, instability, fewer resources, and stressful mobility) and comparing the empirical findings against these hypotheses. Following the PRISMA guidelines, the review included 39 studies conducted between January 2010-December 2022 and compared the living arrangements across five domains of children’s outcomes: emotional, behavioral, relational, physical, and educational. The results showed that children’s outcomes were the best in nuclear families but in 75% of the studies children in SPC arrangements had equal outcomes. Children in LPC tended to report the worst outcomes. When compared with the different theoretical hypotheses, the results were the most consistent with fewer resources hypothesis which suggests that children especially in LPC families have fewer relational and economic resources whereas children in SPC families are better able to maintain resources from both parents.

Type Research article
Authors Laura M. Vowels, Chiara L. Comolli, Laura Bernardi, Daniela Chacón-Mendoza, Joëlle Darwiche
Publication Plos ONE