This study examines how a 2013 Arizona law on shared parenting would affect living arrangements, and thus mental health measures. There were two hypotheses. According to the Law Change Hypothesis, it was hypothesized that parenting time in Arizona would be more equal following the 2013 Arizona law change while there would be no change in parenting time in other states following the 2013 Arizona law change. It was further hypothesized that child mental health would be better after the law change in Arizona with no change being seen in other states. Results of this study were almost completely inconsistent with the hypothesis. According to the Law Reflect Hypothesis, the law is actually reflecting the behavior of the community and their thoughts on equal parenting time becoming more favorable, and therefore a change towards more equal parenting time would be found prior to 2013 in Arizona with no change seen in other states. Furthermore, as the Arizona community’s behavior changed, child mental health would be better with no change being seen in other states. Regressions found that a small change toward more equal parenting and closeness with father was prior to 2013 for Arizona students, compared to out-of-state students, although it did not find that the year of divorce resulted in less anxiety, stress, and depression. This partially agrees with past research that the 2013 law is working as intended, even if it started working earlier than we thought. This does not agree with previous research stating there is a connection between equal parenting and better mental health. This is important because this study questions the efficacy of an important and controversial policy. If future studies are consistent with this one, the effectiveness of the Arizona 2013 law change on mental health will need to be further evaluated.
- Shared Parenting: From Practice to Policy