Divorce lawyers have seen it all, but one common theme in their work with clients is that parents tend to use their children to hurt one another. Florida, like most states, uses a best interests of the child standard to determine child custody, which means that both parents will almost always get some time with the child. Shared custody is increasingly popular, though, and offers numerous benefits to parents and their children. Unless there is a history of abuse or one parent is extraordinarily negligent, we advise parents to consider shared custody for the following reasons.
Kids Are Happier
Research suggests that children whose parents enter into shared custody arrangements are happier with their lives a few years after the divorce. This might be because, when shared custody enters the scene, it’s much less likely that children will lose their relationship with one parent.
Parents Are Happier
It’s not just kids who benefit from shared custody! Research has also found that both mothers and fathers report being happier with their custody arrangement if they try shared custody. Happiness can take time, of course. Most parents are a bit resentful of shared custody at first, but five years later, studies show they’re much more satisfied.
You’ll Have More Time
Being a parent means perpetually giving up time to be with your child. This can be tough when you’re going through a divorce. You’ll need time to grieve, time to date, perhaps even time to reinvent yourself – or discover yourself for the first time. Shared custody frees you up to enjoy your own life without worrying about your kids or paying a baby-sitter. If you’ve spent much of your marriage wishing your spouse would help more with childcare, shared custody can make that dream into a reality.
The Adjustment Will Be Easier
For most kids, divorce means spending significant periods of time away from one parent, and it always means being away from at least one parent. Shared custody cushions this blow by ensuring your child gets ample time with each parent. This can make it easier to settle into the divorce routine, helping your child feel happier and more emotionally balanced.
Your Child Won’t Resent You
Sure, you could litigate your child custody case to death. You might even win, if you’re willing to give up everything to get revenge on your ex. But at what cost? Children whose parents deliberately interfere with their relationships with their other parent may grow up to resent the interfering parent. Taking custody from your ex might give you some extra time with your child right now. In 10 years, though, your child might want nothing to do with the parent who intentionally removed the other parent from his or her life. Think long and hard about your child will feel about your behavior before you try to kick the other parent out of your kid’s life.
Sure, it’s not easy to divide your time with your child, but nothing about parenting is. Your job is to do what’s right for your kid, and more often than not, shared custody is the right choice.