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What you should know about 'split custody' arrangements

When determining a custody arrangement, most divorcing parents try to keep siblings together. Brothers and sisters can be each other's most crucial sources of support during this stressful, confusing time. Kids may move back and forth between parents' homes together. One parent may have primary physical custody of them, while the other parent has regular visitations.

However, sometimes split custody (also called "divided custody") is determined to be in the children's best interests. There are a variety of circumstances that lead to a split physical-custody arrangement. Siblings may have a troubled relationship that goes beyond normal sibling rivalry, for example. One child may have special needs that one parent can better deal with.

There's no one split-custody arrangement. Once parents have decided that this is what's in the children's best interests, the next step is to determine how it will work. The arrangement that's chosen will depend in part on why the children will be living separately.

Each child may live solely with one parent. That may be the case if one parent is near a school that a child needs to attend or perhaps a gym where they train regularly. It may be the best arrangement if one parent's home has modifications and equipment required by a child with special needs.

The children may switch off between the two parents while remaining separate. This arrangement may be chosen if the siblings can't live in relative harmony together. However, if the relationship is this toxic, parents should ensure that a therapist is working with the kids to help them resolve their issues.

Even when parents split physical custody of their children, they may both maintain legal custody of them if these choose. That means that both parents can make decisions regarding things like medical care and education for all of their kids. They may decide to split legal custody as well, however. Again, it depends on the circumstances.

A split-custody arrangement can present its unique complications. If you and your co-parent are considering it, it's essential to discuss it with your Tennessee family law attorney. They can review the pros and cons as well as the options for developing a split-custody agreement and parenting plan that will meet your needs -- and, most importantly, your children's needs.

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