When parents divorce, there are a multitude of custody arrangements to choose from. Which one you choose will depend on your own unique family dynamics and -- most importantly -- what's best for your children.
One type of custody arrangement is what's called "split custody" or "divided custody." It's not a common choice, but in some circumstances, it's the best one.
Split custody involves at least one child living with each parent. In some cases, kids will live year-round with their designated parent. In other cases, kids will "switch" homes at some point during the year and live with the other parent. Depending on how the arrangement is set up, siblings may spend little if any time together in the same home. In other cases, there may be periods where they're under the same roof.
The idea of splitting up siblings when parents divorce is not without controversy, of course. However, there are some unique circumstances in which it may be the best solution. For example:
- When sibling rivalry is so intense that the kids can't co-exist peacefully in the same home.
- If one or more kids is aggressive to the point of causing harm to their sibling(s).
- When a child has special needs that one parent is better able to handle than the other.
- If one of the kids is in a special program that is close to just one parent. Maybe they're training to be a competitive gymnast or classical pianist, for example, or they attend a performing arts school.
- If a child is old enough to decide that they only want to live with one parent.
The decision to use a split custody arrangement should never be made without careful consideration. Parents should also include in their custody plan time for siblings to be together, unless that would risk physical or emotional harm to a child.
Split custody doesn't need to be a permanent solution. It may be best to reevaluate the situation from time to time, as you would with any custody arrangement as the kids get older.
If you're considering the possibility of split custody, it's wise to talk with your family law attorney. They can help you work through the pros and cons based on your family dynamics.