Keeping Siblings Together After Divorce: What To Know

When it comes to decisions about child custody, parents are usually the best decision-makers. However, some parents don't agree on much of anything about the divorce, and child custody can become another emotional hot button. Read on to find out why you should not automatically assume that siblings will be kept together.

Siblings Together: A Natural Choice

In most cases, siblings may be better off if the custody and visitation decisions include everyone within the same type of custody plan. Custody plans can vary, and parents might want to consider what works best for them before the judge imposes a plan upon them. In most cases, parenting plans break down into these main categories:

  • Physical custody with one parent and shared legal custody with both parents. Visitation for the non-custodial parent.
  • Shared 50/50 legal and physical custody. No visitation is needed for this arrangement, usually.
  • Bird's nest custody with the parents spending 50% of a month (or another period) with the children.

If any of the custody plans above involve making separate arrangements that don't include all the siblings, the parents should be prepared to convince the judge why that is a good idea.

Siblings Apart: Sometimes it Works

The traditional two-parent household with several biological children is a thing of the past now. That can mean some siblings are half-siblings and may not have the type of relationship you might expect. Also, mothers often delay having more children until later and thus some siblings are decades younger than others. While those circumstances don't automatically mean the children are not close to each other, it does raise the issue of separated siblings with divorce. The below situations offer even more reasons for separating siblings through child custody and visitation arrangements.

  1. Some siblings are closer to one parent. Since the best interest of the child is a huge consideration, siblings could be happier with separate custodial parents.
  2. With a special needs child, one parent may be better able to care for that child while the siblings spend more time with the other parent.
  3. Some siblings are at odds with each other and do not want to be near each other. Unless this is judged to be a temporary situation, split custody could be right.
  4. Some siblings have special reasons to reside with one parent over another. Education and medical issues may call for one parent to have physical custody of one child and for another parent to have custody of the other siblings.

Splitting up is one thing but splitting up siblings is another. Speak to your divorce lawyer or reach out to a law firm like Gomez May LLP to find out what your options are if you are interested in this custody choice.

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