If you research the topic of child custody, then you’ll find that an increasing number of family law judges award joint custody to parents. The research shows that joint custody allows both parents an opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with their child. However, these studies don’t often capture how stressful joint custody can be for the kids.
Children who must frequently travel between their parents’ homes often find themselves stressed out. Those who stay longer with one parent may develop separation anxiety when they have to leave behind the other parent — particularly when they are close to that parent.
Kids subject to joint custody orders often experience a lot of stress because they lack a sense of belonging. They may never feel that they get to spend enough time at either parent’s house to really develop a sense that it’s their safe space. This can ultimately affect their ability to make friends or enjoy extracurricular activities. It can also adversely impact their behavior and grades in school.
Child development specialists ultimately say that any custody arrangements parents agree to should take into account the child’s age and development level. For example, kids seven years of age or older whose divorced parents live close to each other may benefit from splitting half their week with each parent. Teens, however, may prefer extended stays — as long as two weeks at a time — at each parent’s home.
To maintain bonds and reduce stress, children should always have access to a phone to communicate with the absent parent while they’re away at the other parent’s home. Both mom and dad should be flexible in accommodating the other parent’s scheduling requests to minimize any conflicts for the child. Parents should also work together to establish a streamlined schedule and set of rules for their child so that there’s a sense of continuity between the two homes.
A visitation or custody schedule that you may have thought would work when you and your ex first split up may not work as time passes and your child gets older. It’s not uncommon for divorced parents to revisit their custody agreements to broker new ones over time. A Kissimmee divorce attorney can help you and your ex come to an agreement on a custody schedule that is ideal for all parties involved.