Is Split Residential Custody in the Best Interests of Children?

Is Split Residential Custody in the Best Interests of Children? by Joshua Katz

{2:50 minutes to read} In recent years there has been a clear shift in custody cases toward “shared residential custody.” But is this necessarily a good trend?

Under New York law, there is a presumption that both parents have equal rights to their children. There is no gender bias or preference. However, the law does not presume that “equal rights to the child” and “best interest of child” are one and the same.

There is very limited empirical research on the effect that shares (or splits) residential custody has on the development of children. Many studies have been conducted around the world on this subject, but none is particularly scientific or dispositive. Interestingly, most studies conclude that shared or split residential custody (where the child’s time is split equally between the mother and the father) does NOT reduce re-litigation in the future — i.e., these parents are equally likely to return to court to seek modifications.

There is NO evidence that children who were raised in a shared residential custody arrangement benefited or showed improvement in:

  • behavioral conduct,
  • psychological well-being,
  • physical condition, or
  • academic performance.

There is also no evidence that children develop better relationships with either parent, as compared with children who lived with one parent and visited the other in a more traditional scenario.

Most residential custody arrangements ultimately fail.

It is interesting that most residential or split custody arrangements do not last. In more than fifty percent of these cases, the children end up residing with one parent or the other despite the order of the court.

According to one recent study, young adults who were involved in this type of custody arrangement as children believe that it WAS in their best interests. They asserted this more regularly than children who were raised primarily by their mother. The children of shared residences seem to prefer it. Still, we need more research and studies. We need more collaboration between mental health experts, litigators, and legislators.

In this attorney’s opinion, split residential custody should only be considered when you have “PPCC”:

  • Proximity
  • Similar Parenting Styles
  • Good Communication
  • Consent of both parents

If each of the factors exists, then split custody makes perfect sense. Absent these four factors, a shared residential custody arrangement is doomed to fail, and I believe one parent should be granted primary residential custody.

How will you determine if a shared residential custody arrangement would be in your child’s best interest?

Plaine & Katz, LLP
80-02 Kew Gardens Rd.
Suite # 1050
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

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