Deciding on what custody visitation schedules are in the best interest of the child is often the most difficult task when facing a divorce. The two most important issues to consider are:
1) Will this custody arrangement provide continuity of care for your children who are dealing with so much disruption in their lives?
2) How much arguing and conflict is there with your soon to be ex-spouse?
Although it is not always possible to keep everything the same as it was before the divorce, a joint physical custody visitation schedule will at least allow your child to have equal access to both parents in a same but different way than before the divorce. The children who come out the most emotionally healthy never have to wonder "Why doesn’t my dad want to see me?" or "Mom hates me that is why she is never around".
If you think you can co parent with your ex, communicate and cooperate with little conflict, and are able to deal with disagreements without bringing your children into your fights, than joint physical custody may be the best option for you. Try and develop a plan of living and custody visitation schedules before you hit your lawyer’s office. It will save you all much time and money. But make sure you check with your lawyer about the legal aspects of your children's living situation.
The bottom line is this: Research has shown that children who cope with divorce the best are those that have as little as possible change in their live and where ex-spouses have an amicable relationship.
Benefits of Joint Custody
There are many benefits to joint custody living arrangements. Children are allowed to continue and develop a relationship with both their mother and father. They learn that people can work together even though they have differences. And they are better able to cope with the idea that their parents will never get back together. Granted, divorce is never easy and will bring up painful feelings for all family members.
But some children are better able to deal with it than others, and it all depends on how parents handle their own feelings about the failed marriage. I really like the book “Helping Children Cope with Divorce” by Edward Teyber. It talks about what it takes to help your child deal with parent separation and divorce.
But, there are times when joint custody is not beneficial to children. Joint visitation schedules will not work if the parents are highly conflictual, argue constantly, or desire to seek revenge on their ex.
Another good book that discusses custody issue in depth is “The Divorce Recovery Sourcebook.”
So as you can see each situation is unique. If there are no significant complicating factors joint custody visitation schedules are usually the best arrangements for your children. There are always different factors with which to deal. And guardianship arrangements for an infant are an entirely different matter. And with all legal matters, you should always contact a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your particular situation.
**This article was written by Melanie Cohn LMSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in emotional issues related to divorce. If you live in the Detroit area and are looking for a counselor for yourself or your children call Melanie Cohn at (248) 821 2957, or text her 248 821-2957