The conventional wisdom of the day in most family courts is that shared custody is best when parents divorce. The idea is to keep both parents equally involved in their children’s lives by giving both parents equal time with the kids and equal say over any important decisions that concern them.
That’s an easy decision for the court to make because it seems fair to the parents — but is it fair to the children? Psychologists are beginning to suggest that what’s really in the “best interests of the children” may be much harder to parse.
Family dynamics of broken marriages can make co-parenting impossible
When parents have an unhealthy dynamic in their marriage, that same unhealthy dynamic can carry over into their parenting styles. Far too often, conflicts arise because one spouse is a caregiver and the other is “care-consuming.”
Unfortunately, after a breakup, those same patterns continue. When children are with their caregiving parent, all is well — the children are apt to get all the attention and nurturing they need to thrive. When the children are with their care-consuming parent, however, they are often pressed into the position of providing all the attention and emotional nurturing that parent needs but no longer gets from their ex-spouse.
In addition, parents with this kind of dynamic generally cannot co-parent well. The care-consuming parent is so inner-focused that they usually cannot set their own needs aside to focus on the needs of their children. That often leads to unnecessary, conflict-filled exchanges with their co-parent that could otherwise be avoided.
What’s right for your family?
No two families are exactly alike, so no two custody agreements should be exactly the same. When you’re faced with a difficult child custody question or battle, don’t try to figure out the next steps without some experienced legal guidance.