[S]o you’ve got two kids, and you and your Ex are haggling over custody? Both might expect a long, expensive, protracted legal battle, something no one really wants or can afford. But neither of you wants to give up custody.

But who says the kids should stay together?

Is splitting children a reasonable custody strategy?

In the 1998 remake of “The Parent Trap,” Nick Parker and Elizabeth James are shown each raise one of their twin girls alone.

While this makes for an interesting movie, this arrangement is unusual, rarely court directed, but occasionally possible.

As with most child custody issues, the court’s decision on such a matter is complicated and highly individualistic. The court will consider the closeness of the children’s ages, how well they get along, how far they will have to travel for school, see friends, and be with each other. The court will also look at possible time spent with the other parent, and any other factors relevant to the child’s best interests.

Is this Really Possible?

Most arrangements of this type are decided out of court by the divorcing parents themselves. The parents can come to an agreement to split the children, execute the agreement for a period of time informally, then visit the court specifically outlining the agreed upon arrangement.

Depending on the local courts, and judge’s temperament, that process could be as simple as a judicial stamp of approval on an already executed the written agreement. Or it could turn into an evidentiary hearing, during which both parents will have to state their case that this agreement is in the best interest of both children.

In most states, the standard to modify the court’s order is “substantial change in circumstances” or “proper cause.” The change in circumstances is the parents’ modification regarding splitting the children. The analysis is highly-fact intensive.

The idea of splitting the children isn’t even a starter with most parents; but in some cases, it could be the correct option for all parties involved. And of course it will likely require maximum cooperation from both parents. However don’t expect courts to initiate such an agreement. Their positions are the same as in an adoption or foster care…keep the kids together.

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There are exceptions, but understanding what is required will keep you from falling into a real “parent trap.”

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Have you ever seen a case where each parent raised one kid alone? How do you feel about splitting children?

Featured image from Dollar Photo Club.