What Challenges Come with Raising a Two-Household Child?

What Challenges Come with Raising a Two-Household Child?Over the past few decades, the way we think about parenting has changed. The traditional child custody arrangement, where the kids lived with Mom and saw Dad on occasional weekends, had to change as more women entered – and remained – in the workplace. Joint physical custody became the norm.

A study conducted in 2022 found that the number of divorced couples who were given joint custody across the United States from 1985 to 2010 increased by more than 20 percent. These days, however, the push has been for shared custody, where the children spend equal amounts of time with their parents. This 50/50 split is not just about residency; it’s about affording both parents the opportunity to develop bonds with their children, and to be actively engaged in their upbringing.

This is a truly novel idea in American households, and much of the raw data says it’s the best possible outcome for children and parents alike. As a recent article published in The Atlantic explains, two-household children seem to thrive more than those who are being raised by one parent who has sole custody. As a matter of fact, the article mentions that two-household children have better “life satisfaction, stress levels, and self-esteem,” which are all vital to their success and well-being.

However, there are still several unique challenges that come with equal joint custody, such as:

  • Different schedules and plans, creating conflicts for the parents and children.
  • Children having to learn to adjust and adapt to moving between homes frequently. This can cause stability issues.
  • A risk of the child’s needs being overlooked because of the complexity of the shared schedules.
  • Increased costs for parents whose children travel frequently from home to home.
  • Increased risk of children feeling “caught in the middle” of parental disagreements.
  • Challenges regarding religious upbringing, education, medical care, and other decisions about the children’s welfare.

These concerns only address the immediate needs of a family; they don’t begin to cover the gaps in our public policies. From The Atlantic:

Consider the earned income tax credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit available to low-income Americans. The refund is substantially larger for those claiming a dependent child—but a child can be claimed only once each year. That makes some sense in a sole-custody arrangement (though some people would argue that a “noncustodial father” paying child support shouldn’t be treated like a single, childless adult). In a joint-custody arrangement, it creates confusion about which parent is entitled to claim the credit—and ultimately a lopsided scenario in which two adults regularly house and care for a child while only one gets state help.

Taxes, of course, are only part of the issue; custody issues naturally arise when a parent needs to relocate. The “Full Faith and Credit” clause of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) essentially says that courts in one state must follow the orders of courts from another, so the custody plan you create in Maryland will hold if your co-parent moves to Virginia. Therefore, if the existing custody plan cannot work in the same way, parents must petition the court to modify the order.

But let us be clear: this is not necessarily an easy thing to do, legally or emotionally. The process of filing the petition by the relocating parent can be tricky, as it needs to be filed in the child’s home state (which generally has jurisdiction). Failure to go through the courts to request the modification can lead to violating a court order, which could have criminal penalties.

Further, a parent who needs to move to care for a sick relative or for a job opportunity is essentially told to choose between parenting time and the other obligation. And in many cases, it is the parenting time which suffers.

How McCabe Russell, PA can help with your joint and shared custody arrangement

If you are a parent who plans to pursue joint or shared custody, you deserve a partner who can help you take stock of what is important. You also deserve a trusted advocate who can help you understand how the laws – as outdated or complicated they may be – are likely to affect you and your family. .

The country’s system is still not prepared to help parents who are raising two-household children, but McCabe Russell, PA is. We understand the unique challenges which face parents today, and provide legal guidance based on your needs:

  1. We can help you create a custody agreement: If you are ready to put your joint or shared custody arrangement in motion, our firm can help you and your co-parents develop a custody agreement through the collaborative process if you prefer. We can also represent you in mediation, and advocate for your goals in litigation.
  2. We can help you develop a parenting plan: Next, we can help you establish a parenting plan with your co-parent. This part of the process involves developing a document that explains what you and your co-parent need when it comes to raising your children. You may include a parenting schedule, holidays, vacations, unexpected or emergency situations, extracurricular activities, and more.
  3. We always keep your child’s best interests in mind: At McCabe Russell, PA, your children’s best interests are always our top priority. As Best Interest attorneys, we put our knowledge and experience to work on your behalf.
  4. We can help you make changes or modifications if needed: If you already have a joint custody agreement in place and need to make changes or modifications, our team can assist you with this. You will be better off having one of our Bethesda custody lawyers handle this on your behalf, rather than trying to do it on your own.
  5. We can help you set and accomplish goals for your joint custody arrangement: Our Bethesda lawyers firmly believe in setting and accomplishing goals for your equal joint custody arrangement. These can be goals that help you save money, pay for your child’s expenses, attend counseling every week, find ways to entertain yourself when your child is with their other parent, and more. Our objective is to provide a helping hand and guide you through the overwhelming challenges that come with this type of custody arrangement.

If you need a firm that knows and understands how to help you navigate the challenges of raising children in a two-household environment, McCabe Russell, PA is the answer. Our Bethesda family law attorneys take pride in guiding parents through the obstacles and hurdles that may arise when it comes to seeking unique joint and shared custody options for their children. If you are ready to get started, call our office or complete our contact form to schedule your case review today. We have offices conveniently located in various parts of Maryland, such as Bethesda, Rockville, Columbia, and Fulton.