One custody option that some parents with multiple children choose after divorce is called “split custody” or “divided custody.” It’s when each parent takes primary physical custody of one or more of their children, so the siblings aren’t living together.
Split custody isn’t common — for good reason. Many parenting experts don’t recommend it because it involves splitting up siblings at a time when they may need each other’s support more than ever.
Sometimes in split custody arrangements, each parent takes permanent custody of one or more of the kids, while the other has visitation rights. In some cases, parents switch custody of the kids on a regular schedule, so each child spends time living with both parents. Other times, the agreed-on schedule lets the siblings live in the same home for a time.
While split custody isn’t usually the recommended arrangement, there are some family situations in which it may be in the best interests of the children. For example:
- A child has special needs that require care, equipment or accommodations in the home that one parent is better able to provide than the other.
- A child goes to a school that provides unique opportunities or is involved in special activities that one parent is closer to than the other. For example, maybe you have a child who goes to a performing arts school or one who’s a competitive gymnast or ice skater and trains regularly at a location closer to one parent than the other.
- Your children have a very unhealthy relationship with one another that goes beyond sibling rivalry. It may be best for them to live separately for a time. However, this should not be a substitute for counseling that can help them resolve their issues and build a healthy relationship.
- You have a preteen or teenager who has expressed a strong desire to live with one parent. If your child is old enough and mature enough to have a say in the matter, it’s worth considering their point of view and their reasoning behind it.
If you and your co-parent have decided that split custody is the way to proceed, the next step is to work out the details of your custody agreement. Regardless of the physical custody arrangement, you may both decide to share legal custody of all of your children. Your Florida family law attorney can guide you through this process.