If you’ve been reading up on various types of child custody choices divorcing parents have, you may have seen references to “split” or “divided” custody. This isn’t the same as shared custody, where parents each have their children with them for a specified amount of time (for example, a 50-50 arrangement).
Split custody is very different than shared custody – and it’s far less common. In some families, however, it’s best for everyone – particularly the children. It involves one or more children living with one parent while the other(s) live with the other parent. There may be visitation arrangements and even times when everyone gathers together. However, for the most part, they live as two separate families.
What situations can benefit from split custody?
This is generally not a permanent arrangement, but split custody can be a temporary solution for some issues. Often, it’s done in conjunction with some kind of family therapy to heal whatever serious rift has developed. For example, sometimes, parents choose to have split custody if issues between siblings go beyond sibling rivalry into something more toxic and even potentially dangerous. In some cases, the relationship between a child and one of their parents is particularly fraught, and they can’t peacefully live together – even for a few days every week.
In other cases, parents split custody of their children for purely practical purposes. For example, one child may go to a specialized school that’s close to one parent but would be very difficult to attend if they divided their time between their parents’ homes. A child may have special needs that require accessible features or medical equipment that are already in one home.
There’s no one way to do split custody. There are a number of variations. It’s best when co-parents can work together to develop a parenting plan and custody agreement that works for their family. If you’re considering split custody, look at the pros and cons and review the various options. Having legal guidance can help you work toward an arrangement that is right for your family.