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Overcoming custody challenges when children have half-siblings

Jan 22, 2021 | Child Custody

The primary purpose of a child custody plan is protecting a child’s well-being, and that can mean preserving the relationships he or she has. This includes relationships with half-siblings.

If you are divorcing and there are half-siblings in the picture, there may be challenges to creating a parenting plan that enables all your children and your ex’s children to stay in each other’s lives.

Complications with half-sibling custody

Generally, the courts prefer to keep children together. However, that can be impossible when they have different parents.

For example, consider a situation where divorcing spouses have a child together, and each party has a child from a previous relationship. When the parents get divorced, a custody order may only be in place for the shared child. Such an order results in a child dividing time not just with parents, but also half-siblings.

In other words, parents must evaluate the benefits of shared custody not just for each parent’s sake, but for the sake of the half-siblings, as well.

This can be a tricky balancing act, particularly if parents are not on good terms. It is possible, though.

Finding the balance

To find a balance between preserving half-sibling relationships and protecting custody rights, parents should consider the following elements:

  • The ages of the children
  • Whether they were raised together
  • The bond between them, whether it is solid or strained
  • Whether there is a compelling reason to separate the children

Taking these factors into account can help parents design a parenting plan that works for them and their children. That said, understand that the relationship with half-siblings is just one component of determining what is in a child’s best interests. Several other factors can affect a child’s placement.

If you are navigating divorce and have children who are half-siblings, staying out of court can be crucial because you may need to get creative with your guidelines and schedules. And ultimately, no one knows your situation better than you do. Thus, reaching agreements together can allow you to maintain more control and find greater satisfaction in the outcome.