Is equal child custody always best?

As the number of divorces continues to remain steady in our nation, about half of Minnesota couples will find themselves in the midst of a breakup at some time in their lives. Many of these splits involve negotiations for child custody and support. Even though the modern approach to family law dictates that both parents should share perfectly equal custody, some experts say the presumption of a 50/50 approach may not be best for children.

Courts are increasingly attempting to ensure that parents get equal time with their kids after a divorce. This equality can be achieved in a variety of ways. For example, kids can spend two nights a week with mom, two nights a week with dad, and then alternate weekends between the two. In this way, kids are able to see their parents at least once every five days. A vast number of other possibilities also exist; child custody experts are able to come up with creative solutions to make sure parents truly get equal time with their children.

There are some situations, however, in which equal custody decisions are not appropriate. Clearly, parents who are known abusers or criminals may have restricted access to custody rights. Some parents are simply less cooperative, though, especially during the notorious high-conflict divorces. If the parents are unable to communicate about their divorce, will they ever be able to communicate about their children? Families caught up in high-conflict divorce can benefit from a sole physical custody arrangement because it protects the children from the negativity that could spawn from sharing time with the kids. If joint custody is attempted in these cases, the specific details need to be made clear; that is, drop off and pickup times should be orchestrated down to the hour. This way, less conflict is likely to result.

If you are dealing with a high-conflict divorce situation, consider seeking the advice of a qualified family attorney. These professionals can help you learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities, helping you reach a child custody agreement that works best for your family.

Source:, "Equal child custody revisited" Henry Gornbein, Jun. 27, 2013

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