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Will the California Family Law Court Separate Siblings in Child Custody Cases?

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Divorce is often painful and traumatic for those going through it, but even as the adults struggle to cope, it can be even more difficult for the children involved. When parents split up, a child’s entire world undergoes a dramatic change. For children, divorce often arrives with new living situations, different schools, and with the change comes uncertainty. During these times of extreme difficulty, siblings often lean on each other. This leaves many worried about whether or not the court will order split custody. Will the California family court separate siblings during divorce proceedings

For those worried about siblings being split up due to a court’s child custody order, there is good news. The court will rarely separate siblings during divorce, except when there are extenuating circumstances. The primary concern is the best interest of the child. In the majority of cases, keeping siblings together is in their best interest. During a divorce, children go through a lot of change, stress, and difficulty. Judges hesitate to add to the trauma by splitting up siblings. According to numerous studies, there are also several benefits of siblings staying together after parents divorce.

Benefits of Siblings Staying Together After Parents Divorce:

1.    Stability: As discussed previously, divorce is a time of significant change and upheaval for the children involved. Children in this situation often cling to any stable elements they have left. Amidst new living situations, new schools, new stepfamilies, new routines, new households, and more. The calm and steady element children cling to is often a sibling.

2.    Comfort: Children are comforted by the thought that they aren’t going through the hard times alone. Having a sibling close by during a divorce offers comfort and lowers their stress level.

3.    Support: The support provided by siblings during divorce can be practical, like having someone to help with homework. It can also mean moral support. Just having a regular, consistent presence around can make a huge difference for a child.

4.    Caretaking: In a significant number of divorces siblings serve as a caretaker or protector for each other due to being kept together in custody orders. Older brothers or sisters assist younger children in understanding what’s happening and sometimes shielding them from unpleasant realities they aren’t ready to understand.

These are only a few of the reasons the family court is ultimately reluctant to separate siblings in divorce. Reluctance does not necessarily guarantee that the court will never decide on split custody. It does happen in some cases. Split custody is not a solution meant to appease parents or suit one parent or the other. It is a decision the court would make only when split custody would be in the children’s best interests. For instance, if there is a safety issue that prevents two sisters from living in the same place safely, the judge may order siblings separated.

If you need to discuss the possibility of split custody or if you would like to understand how the court determines the best interest of the child for child custody orders in California, please get in touch with one of the experienced divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.



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