Your divorce may affect your children in ways you may not even realize. If you and your soon-to-be former spouse have kept things quiet regarding your parting of ways, when you break the news to your kids, they may be overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions -- some of which may include shock, sadness, anger and perhaps even guilt.
Keeping the best interests of your children at heart moving forward with your divorce, you might want to think about what would be the most positive situation for them when it comes to custody arrangements.
It's all personal
Every family dynamic is unique and thus custody arrangements aren't one size fits all. If your relationship with your soon-to-be ex-spouse allows for it, drawing up a custody plan that best suits all parties involved often proves to be the best manner to proceed. If you are in a contentious relationship or can't for any other reason, a judge will establish a custody plan that he or she deems most appropriate.
Sole or joint legal custody
When you and your ex want to share the decision-making in your children's lives, joint legal custody may be the best custody option. However, when one parent is not in a position to make decisions (is incarcerated or suffering health problems etc.) the other parent typically should be the decision-maker.
One primary residence
A custody plan giving your children one main place to call home is common for many divorced parents in North Carolina. The parent the kids aren't living with full time typically has regular visitation. This situation gives the kids stability in their everyday lives as well as a continuing relationship with the parent who doesn't live with them.
Sharing physical custody
When you and your ex want the kids to get equal time with both of you, shared custody might be the best arrangement. This can especially prove to be a good fit when you and your ex live close to each other.
If one parent can't provide the best care
When one parent can't give his or her kids the best care possible, giving the other parent sole physical custody might be prudent for the children. For instance, if one parent is in bad health or emotionally unable to care for his or her children for any reason, then the other parent will most likely receive sole physical custody. The non-custodial parent will likely still have visitation time, with the exception of extreme circumstances.
A nouveau concept
Keeping your children healthy, happy and emotionally stable is paramount when determining custody arrangements. A new concept known as bird nesting may give the kids comfort in maintaining one stable home. The difference in this situation is that you and your ex come and go in the home instead of shuffling the kids around. They are able to stay put in the same place while getting to spend time with each parent equally.
If you have been thinking about or are already facing a divorce, an experienced family law attorney can answer any questions you may have about the process. A compassionate attorney will also be able to help you create the most applicable parenting plan for your unique situation.