In a home that features divorced parents, child custody arrangements can be tricky. While both sides will argue for the arrangement they think is best, parents must also keep in mind how the arrangement will affect the children.
This is especially true for children between the ages of six and 12. In this stage, children often understand what is going on and the circumstances surrounding their home life. They understand the concept of divorce and that they may not see one parent for a prolonged period of time. This is also a stage of life that comes before the typical rebellious teenaged years, meaning children still seek the approval of their parents and other elders.
A joint child custody arrangement can be a delicate situation. If a child is forced to move from home-to-home too much, they might not feel like they actually have a home. They will likely view their lives as a constant transition with no real time to settle down. At the same time, if a child spends too much time at one parent's house that could also pose a whole different set of negative effects.
Some experts in this field suggest what is known as a 2-2-5 arrangement. Under this rule of thumb, children between the ages of six and 12 found in traditional joint child custody agreements should spend Monday and Tuesday at one home and Wednesday and Thursday at another. The parents can alternate where children stay for the weekend. Once the child reaches their teens, it might be best to have the child spend week-long periods alternating between homes.
This co-parenting strategy might seem ultra-simple, and it is. But what is simple on paper is not necessary simple amid a divorce where emotions often run rampant. Important agreements that concern child-rearing, like child custody agreements, can only be simple and effective when both sides put their negative feelings and criticisms aside and strive for what is best for the children.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Just passing through," Tara Fass, March 8, 2012