You have two children and your spouse just told you that they want a divorce. You know that you need to divide custody of the children. Rather than picking times when both children will live with you or with your ex, should you consider splitting the kids up between households?
This is known as split custody and it is understandably very rare. The courts are focused on the children’s best interests, after all. They usually assume that means the children should stay together. It could be traumatic for them to lose not only the time with both parents but also with a sibling. To keep both parents involved — which may be your goal — they’ll typically give you each time with both kids and time with no children at all.
While it is rare, it does happen. Things to consider include age, gender and the child’s wishes.
For instance, perhaps one child is a 15-year-old boy. The other is a one-year-old girl. They are siblings, but they have little in common and do not have a friendship-style bond. The son would prefer to live with his father and the mother would prefer to raise the daughter, both because of the gender connection and because she’s so young. If everyone is on board with that arrangement, the court may agree to it.
However, even then, they may determine that both children will benefit from time with both parents as they grow up, meaning split custody still does not work.
Child custody cases can get complicated. If you’re in the middle of one, make sure you know what rights you have and what steps you can take to both protect those rights and put the children first.