Split custody arrangements essentially mean that siblings are separated so the one or more children live with one parent and the siblings live with another parent. Split custody is not the same as joint custody. In joint custody arrangements, the children spend time with both parents. Typically, the parent who has joint custody will have custody of all the children during each stay.
In most cases, family courts like to keep children (no matter their gender or their ages) together. If there are exceptions, they’re minimal and due to logistics. For example, one parent may drive a child to a soccer tournament while the other parent makes sure the other child gets to an academic competition during the same time slot.
In split custody arrangements, a brother may permanently stay with a father and a sister may permanently stay with the mother. In other split custody arrangements, most siblings spend time with both parents – just not at the same time.
When might a split custody schedule work?
- When the siblings don’t get along. All siblings don’t get along to some degree. It’s known as sibling rivalry. As with most relationships, there are levels and degrees. If one child is at risk of being physically hurt or emotionally tormented by a sibling, then split custody may be considered – provided the children are also getting counseling to work out their differences.
- If a child has a disability or special needs, then split custody may work when one parent is more suited to take care of the child than the other parent. For example, a parent who works away from home full-time can’t take care of a special needs child in the same way a stay-at-home parent can.
- There may be a case where the educational opportunities for a child are better in the location of one parent than another parent. This may be especially true for children who attend private schools.
- Some older children prefer to live with one parent and not the other. The preferences of older children are considered – often for the practical reason that they’ll do what they want and parents can’t spend all their time in court.
As with all custody arrangements, the bottom line is that the decision will always be what is in the best interests of the children.
When split custody is not recommended
It’s generally not a good idea to split children between parents unless there is a really good reason. Children need to learn to get along with each other. Most siblings develop strong and loving bonds with each other that last a lifetime. And, there are many practical logistics involved with raising children that make it more logical to keep children together.
How split custody works
The basics of split custody agreements and orders are:
- Generally, each parent will have physical custody of at least one child
- The arrangement is detailed in a written parenting plan
- Even though parents may have sole physical custody of at least one child, they should still consider joint legal custody of all the children
- The parents need to demonstrate why split custody is necessary and how each parent will stay involved in the lives of all their children
Split custody orders can be modified while the children are still minors.
At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we work to do what is in the best interests of your children. We negotiate and litigate physical and legal custody issues and child support. We work to develop parenting plans that represent our client’s interests and concerns. For help with your custody issues, call us at 615-977-9370 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. We handle custody cases in and around Franklin, Columbia and Brentwood Tennessee.