When you were a child, you may have had school friends whose divorced parents struggled with strained and inequitable custody orders. Your friends may have had only weekends or summers with their fathers or struggled to keep themselves organized between two different households. Maybe you were one of those children.
Fortunately, family advocates and the courts are seeing more clearly how important it is for parents to share the duties and blessings of raising their children, providing as much stability as possible for their families following a divorce. Because of this positive shift, more creative versions of child custody are available to families who are willing to try.
Innovative options for shared parenting
If you and your spouse are on the cusp of divorce, your primary concern is likely for your children. Recent studies show that children whose parents share physical custody are better able to adapt and have fewer problems with behavior. You may want this opportunity for your children. Allowing a New Jersey family court to decide on a custody arrangement may rob you of an opportunity to create a unique plan that will work well for every member of the family.
Some unconventional arrangements modern parents use include these:
- Continuing to live in the same home with your spouse, having separate bedrooms but sharing meals and common living space
- Sharing custody of the children a week at a time instead of more frequent shifts
- Nesting the home by letting the children stay and alternating the time when you or your spouse lives there
As with any custody arrangement, these newer models have their drawbacks. For example, you may not have the emotional capacity to continue living with your spouse after the divorce. If you or your spouse has already found a new romance, nesting may be too awkward or painful. Like many spouses who continue to share a home, you and your spouse may find it difficult to trust each other with your personal space, or you may continue the same disagreements from when you were married.
Making your own way
Often, unconventional custody arrangements work well for the short term but may not stand the test of time as relationships change. As with any custody agreement, you may need to revisit it from time to time to see if there is a better way to make it work.
Most importantly, you and your spouse now have the freedom to find the best options for your family to alleviate one of the most stressful factors of divorcing when you have children.