There’s often a fear that children can be split up after a divorce. If you’re a fan of movies, you may think that the court has an unlimited amount of power to dispose of your children as they wish. You might have a fear that your ex’s ‘favorite’ child may be taken away from you, or that your children may be forced to choose with whom they will be sent to live. Fortunately, the reality of the situation is not quite as dire as you might think. While there is a possibility that your children could be sent to live with different parents, the odds of this are exceedingly low.
First, it’s a good idea to look at how the court decides with whom a child should live. While you might be afraid that money or some other kind of social issue is the most important, the truth is that the court looks primarily at the well-being of the child. It is exceedingly rare that the court would find that one parent is the most fit to care for one child while the other parent is more fit to care for another. While this could theoretically happen, it’s so unlikely that it’s not worth thinking about.
It’s more likely to see children split up if the parents don’t both have custody of the children. If, for example, one parent has a child from a previous relationship but who was not adopted by the new spouse, that child could end up with a different parent than his or her half-siblings. Again, this is a rare situation – but it does bring up the fact that prior custody agreements can have some weight here. If you have a close relationship with the child of your spouse, this might be something you wish to talk about in a collaborative setting.
It is, however, possible that your children can be split up when they get older. The court will not be likely to order this on their own, but the court does take the requests of older children into account when they come down with their final custody order. A teenager is much more likely to be able to make an informed choice about where he or she wishes to live and this choice may not be the same for a pair of siblings. The court will not, however, send your child to live somewhere that is not save or that is not fit for them to live.
When children are split up, it’s usually because the parents have agreed to do so. When you work in a collaborative setting, it’s possible for you to make decisions that wouldn’t otherwise be made by the courts. If your spouse has a ‘favorite’ child, he or she may push to get custody of this child. It’s important that you stand your ground in this case, especially if you feel like this move would be detrimental to the future of any of your children. Your lawyer should be able to help you stand firm here, and you can always involve the courts if you feel like you are being bullied into making a decision that you do not want to make. Remember, there’s no reason for you to accept a decision that the court would not want to enforce on its own.
The court does have a vested interest in making sure children are given the best possible circumstances in which to live. Unless something very strange is going on, this will not involve splitting up your children. It requires very unusual circumstances for this to happen, especially if the factors above aren’t taken into account. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can apply a sort of simple logic to this fear – the court is highly unlikely to make two separate decisions based on the same data for two separate children.