A Child’s Personality and Joint Physical Custody

Reviewed and approved by Kathryn Wayne Spindler

Shared physical custody is the new norm as there are shifts in social changes. These changes are due to the argument that children should spend 50/50 time with each parent as long as it is in the child’s best interest. This division of time would help to ensure the child grows with and develops a meaningful relationship with each parent. Some argue that shared custody is not in the best interest of the child, while others believe that shared custody is in fact in the best interest of the child. These different viewpoints are judged on the different situations at hand, and how they affect the child.

However, shared custody can cause issues as to what is fair shared parenting time, as well as add stress to the children due to the demands of living in a shared custody arrangement. Some children are very flexible and are not affected by the constant switching between each parent’s home, but other children are not so flexible and have a hard time adjusting.

Research conducted on physical custody shows that children do not seem to do better or worse in any specific custody arrangement. However, this research is missing the important factors of the child’s personality and characteristics. The study of a child’s personality and characteristics and how they are affected by a shared custody situation is an under researched topic.

The greatest amount of development in a child’s personality occurs at a young age. Temperament of a child also contributes to emerging personality traits, and ultimately the later development of adult personality traits. Certain personalities may not be a good fit with different types of parenting time schedules.

Parenting time schedules are often created and guided by research for different age groups of children, along with the risk and protective factors to consider. In Michigan, some courts may consider a child’s preference in the parenting time schedule. A recent study analyzed a child’s sense of well-being and personality traits within a shared physical custody schedule. The study found that more conscientious and extraverted children may be at a higher risk of detrimental personality changes in a shared physical custody schedule than other children. Children who are conscientious and extraverted often benefit from living in one home versus going back and forth between two homes as the children have consistency, predictability, and a more secure hold to a primary social network.

Family law attorneys should consider a child’s personality when drafting a parenting time schedule. Informing clients about the potential concerns that may surround a shared custody arrangement should also be discussed. Guardian ad Litem also also need to take a child’s personality traits into account when evaluating the child’s best interest and custody arrangements. A child’s personality can be greatly affected by shared parenting time and should be taken into consideration when developing a parenting time schedule.


The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced attorneys who change with the times to meet the needs of their clients.  Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 for assistance. The attorneys of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates practice law throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Genesee and Livingston counties as well as four mid-Michigan counties Clare, Gladwin, Ogemaw and Roscommon. The attorneys handle cases in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Wixom; Commerce; Walled Lake; Waterford; West Bloomfield; Linden; Fenton; Flint; Grand Blanc; Holly; South Lyon; New Hudson; Howell; Clare; Gladwin; Houghton Lake; Higgins Lake; and many more Michigan communities. And soon to be opening another office in Dadeville, Alabama.

For more information, please see article “Adolescents and Joint Physical Custody: Does Personality Matter?” by Dr. Linda Smith and Dr. Eric Frazer on