Divorce is often an experience fraught with difficult emotions and uncertainty about the future. This is true for the couple divorcing, as well as for any children in the family. Couples considering divorce will worry about how it may impact their lives, as well as the well-being of their children.
Getting divorced is never easy, but it certainly becomes more complex when you and your spouse share minor children. It is perfectly normal to want to predict how the courts will likely handle custody decisions. However, it is very important to understand that each divorce is unique, and there is no guaranteed outcome to any custody proceedings.
Sole custody is not as common as it once was
There was a time not so long ago when the courts usually chose to place children with one parent or the other. The non-custodial parent would end up relegated to weekend visitations and alternating holidays. This led to intense battles for custody in court, with both parents more focused on winning than on what their kids needed.
Psychological research over time has shown that this is not the best approach to take in most situations. As a result, divorce courts have begun adjusting their approach to child custody. In fact, in Colorado, courts no longer refer to custody, but rather parental responsibilities. The way that courts allocate those parental responsibilities will vary from family to family.
What will not vary, however, is that the primary focus must always be the best interest of the children involved. This almost always means shared custody, unless one parent has a history of abuse, neglect or addiction.
Co-parenting, or shared custody, helps your children adjust after a divorce
Modern courts prefer to split custody or parental responsibilities between parents. There are many different forms that such a split can take. Sometimes, parents alternate weeks. Other times, they may split each week in half. Every family will have its own challenges in terms of work schedules, school schedules and activities for the children, and the plan should reflect these challenges.
A solid parenting plan will address all of the potential issues related to shared parental responsibilities, including physical time with the children and decision-making authority for educational and health-related issues. Equally shared parental responsibilities generally benefit the children involved.
Shared parental responsibilities can help the children maintain positive relationships with both parents. Knowing that both parents play an active role in their life can make adjusting to the reality of a changed family after divorce easier for the minor children in your family.
While it may not be very appealing to consider sharing custody with your ex, try to focus on what will benefit your children in the long run. That can make it easier for the two of you to rebuild a co-parenting relationship in the wake of your divorce.