Primary custody during divorce usually goes to the primary caregiver. This is the person who has taken care of the children the most. The one who makes sure the kids get medical care when needed, who cooks their meals, washes clothes, makes sure they get in bed early to get up for school the next day, and so on. If the parents reach an agreement on custody out of court then the judge does not have to determine who gets primary custody during divorce. Parents should always consider the children first and what is best for them. Divorce is a difficult process for the entire family but the kids usually do not understand why Mom and Dad no longer want to be together. They often internalize the process and think they are the cause. Kids should be reassured that the breakup has nothing to do with them. "Woe is me for my hurt! My wound is grievous; but I said, 'Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it'" (Jeremiah 10:19).
Split custody is not uncommon when there is more than one child. However, most partners do not want to split up the children. Siblings might have greater difficulties when separated. If the kids are old enough to decide which parent they want to live with then the court will consider their request. Primary custody during divorce is often temporary until the divorce is final. So the primary caregiver may have all of the kids until the proceedings are finalized. If the judge does consider splitting up siblings there needs to be legitimate reasons and the best interest of the children is the deciding factor.
Joint custody is another option when a couple decides to part. One adult has the kids for half the year and the other adult has the kids for the other half of the year. Couples must live fairly close to each other so that children do not have to change schools. This would interrupt their lives too much and could cause a lot of stress. If the adults cannot agree on joint issues then the primary custody during divorce will go to the parent who has taken the responsibility for the ongoing care of the kids. This is largely because of the emotional bond that children have with the adult who is always there for them.
Other factors to consider with primary custody during divorce are the mental and physical health of the two adults, the age and sex of the child, if there are excessive issues with discipline or emotional abuse, and if either parent has an alcohol or drug problem. The primary caregiver must be responsible and not be guilty of using excessive discipline or have caused physical harm to the children. Little children need discipline but not when physical or emotional abuse is involved. Also, if there is an emotional or physical handicap with any of the kids then the court will have to determine who best can take care of the handicapped child.
Visitation rights can be set for the adult who does not have primary custody during divorce. The couple can decide together or the judge will set visitation. Visitation has to be determined around the schedule of the minors. If the kids are in school then visitation will normally be on weekends and holidays. Summer vacation would be alright as long as the children do not have activities or summer school. If they do, then visitation will need to be worked around their schedule. Some activities to consider are enrollment in ballet or sports, swimming lessons, vacation Bible school, or times set aside for staying with grandparents. Holidays may need to be split up where the minors are with each parent every other year.
Couples who are divorcing should make it a main goal to communicate civilly for the minor's sake. This will help alleviate any misunderstandings about primary custody during divorce. Some couples play games with each other on child support and visitation in order to hurt each other. This sort of behavior will not look good in court. One of the worse things a parent can do is use a child in this way. This shows that the parent does not have the best interest of the children in mind. In addition, this shows a great deal of selfishness and any judge will be able to see that. So, if you want custody or visitation rights with the kids then you need to take a step back and get your heart and head in the right place.
A breakup in a marriage can cause a lot of hostile feelings especially if the breakup has been caused by infidelity. A parent will have difficulty dealing with the anger and betrayal felt because of adultery. The best way to deal with the emotional upset is to get some counseling and try to deal with the anger. The adult who is awarded primary custody during divorce will need to keep those feelings in check around the children. The minors are dealing with enough without picking up on Mom's bitterness against Dad. The minors might pick up on the hurt that Mom is feeling and then will feel anger towards Dad. Children should never have to overhear a parent talking about adult situations that they do not understand. When parents talk about adult subjects they should do so where the kids cannot hear. If you find that this describes your situation, pray and ask the Lord for strength and guidance.