For many couples, divorce can quickly become a contentious battle, with each spouse doing anything in their power to "win." This approach may help either spouse feel vindicated about the end of the marriage, but it can do more harm than good when it comes to minor children from the marriage. Ideally, you and your spouse will work together to shield your children from the emotional fallout that often results from divorce.
Children of any age can experience negative emotional consequences when their parents split up. It is important that both the parents and the divorce court take steps to mitigate the potential damage that divorce can cause.
In most scenarios, a protracted custody battle is not in the best interest of the children. Understanding this, the courts have moved away from traditionally allocating custody to one parent to, instead, prioritizing shared custody and co-parenting arrangements.
What is co-parenting?
For those not familiar with the term, co-parenting refers to two people who no longer live together, or share a relationship with one another, who work in tandem for the best interest of their developing children. They try to work together as a team to give their children the most stable and healthy childhood and adolescence possible.
Typically, the courts will help divorcing parents create a parenting plan that addresses everything from curfews to splitting the holidays between parents. Both parents will need to work together to help their children overcome the experience of divorce.
The Michigan family courts prefer to take steps that protect both parents' relationships with the children. After all, the courts focus on the best interest of the children when determining who gets custody. The best interest of the children almost always involves seeing both parents routinely and as much as possible.
When is co-parenting not a good idea?
While co-parenting is rapidly becoming the new standard, it is not universally appropriate. Not every family situation can result in a healthy co-parenting arrangement. In these special circumstances, the courts may still assign primary custody to one parent.
This may include physical and legal custody. Physical custody involves whom the children live with, while legal custody involves decision-making authority. Instead of sharing it equally between parents, the courts may give that authority to one parent if there are serious issues in the family.
These issues could include a history of spousal abuse, issues with child abuse, neglect of the children, drug or alcohol addiction, or serious social or financial instability.
It is important for divorcing couples to understand that there must be documented evidence of abuse or addiction for the courts to consider such things in their custody ruling. Barring any of these extreme and unfortunate circumstances, you should prepare yourself for the likelihood of sharing custody with your ex after the divorce.