[Y]ou and your Ex have come to an amicable agreement regarding child custody. After weeks or maybe months of haggling, debating, the usual give and take, arm-wrestling, thumb wars, any kind of negotiating, you finally figure it out. You have found a way to share custody of your child.
Both of you are ecstatic. With or without an attorney, you have solved one of the major obstacles that confront divorcing couples–real equal time with your kids. You have made out a schedule, and you are ready to start your new lives with a split, but still co-operative and functioning family. Or have you?
Equal Custody, Wanted by Parents, Is It Good for Kids?
Equal custody sounds good, and it makes both parents look like good people. But is it the best situation for your child, or does it just make you feel better about yourself? An equal custody decision is not an end, it’s a beginning. And the work isn’t complete, it’s just starting. And it might not work. Have you and your Ex consider that situations, rules and schedules established today, will change over time. How will equal parenting work once one parent is in a new relationship? What if job changes require further distances? How will you handle scheduling conflicts in the future?
Equal custody is just what it sounds. Two parents, two households. That can run into an expense, not to mention a time-strain when life enters into the picture and one parent doesn’t see the other one living up to his or her obligations, or overreaching same. It also can raise confusion within the kids.
Does he or she have two homes? Two families? Does one feel more like “home” than the other one? Where are the child’s main clothes and toys? Where is the child more comfortable when he or she goes to bed? Which parent is better equipped to handle a personal problem? Who is better with homework? Who establishes better routines? Who is better suited to deal with kids extracurricular activities? Which parent can parent with the least amount of animosity?
Children need stability, they need to feel loved by both parents, and they need a place of solace they can call home. Equal custody can deny that. It’s not that equal custody won’t or can’t work for a family. It can, it happens some of the time. But the mistake is thinking that equal custody works in all situations. In fact, most states don’t default to it for a reason–it rarely works.
Even if the parents think it’s a good idea.
What are your thoughts on equal custody? How have you seen it work or not work in your custody agreements.
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