When parents divorce, custody of the children is typically the hot-button issue between the divorcing spouses. Deciding where the kids will live most of the time can be a wrenching decision that often calls for thinking outside of the box.
But there is one option that is rarely seen in child custody circumstances — splitting up the children. Except for cases where one or both parents had children from prior marriages or relationships, the kids usually are kept together.
Why splitting custody of the kids is quite unusual
If you had a sibling growing up, your childhood memories are intertwined, which helps build strong, long-lasting relationships that last throughout adulthood. When children are like ships that pass in the night, seeing each other only briefly on a few holidays or during custody exchanges, it deprives them of the opportunity to build those bonds.
When splitting custody might be the best choice
Sometimes, just the fact that kids share a blood relationship isn’t enough to offset the animosity that formed between them. One might even be a bully and the other the bully’s hapless victim. Giving both kids some time and space apart might help salvage their relationship until they both mature.
Older kids who are established in their schools and extracurricular activities and after-school jobs may highly resent being uprooted from their lives to go spend 50% of the time living with the parent who left the family home. Rather than turn their remaining childhood years into a parental battleground, it might be better to let them remain in their old home with the parent who stays there.
What to expect from the courts
Few family law courts will order that the children be split up. But they may sign off on a parenting plan that the former spouses draft and sign. Work closely with your family law attorney to devise the best custody plan to reflect the dynamic needs of your family.