In 1912, Robert Falcon Scott led a doomed party of explorers in search of the South Pole, only to find they were second to the spot (behind Roald Amundsen and his hearty Norwegians)1. History is littered with the vacant hulks of second place finishers. Fighting for shared custody may seem like settling for second. But looked at from another perspective, you can see at least eight benefits of sharing custody of your kids with your ex-wife.
Shared Custody in Virginia
In Virginia you have two types of custody involving your children:
- Legal custody—who makes decisions about the children’s medical treatments, education, and religious upbringing?
- Physical custody—where will the children reside?
Rarely can parents share legal custody; more commonly one parent takes on the legal and financial burden of deciding issues for minors. You may pay child support without having primary say in the children’s legal concerns, but you could offer your advice and opinion on things like the schools they attend, which religion they do or do not follow, or which doctor they should see.
Much more common is shared physical custody. In Virginia and elsewhere this is also described as shared parenting. This means your children are not primarily in one house or another, but split their time as evenly as possible between the two homes of ex-wife (but still mother) and ex-husband (but still father—that’s you).
Advantages of Shared Parenting
Tenzing Norgay was second to the top of Mt. Everest. First to the peak was Edmund Hillary, but the photograph of their achievement shows only Tenzing, the faithful and incredibly hardworking Sherpa who ascended with Hillary. Said Hillary, “As far as I knew, [Tenzing] had never taken a photograph before, and the summit of Everest was hardly the place to show him how.”2
You are the Sherpa. You bust your butt to provide for your kids and are rewarded by getting them half the time. She may have legal custody, but if you and your lawyer press hard, you could enjoy shared physical custody while your kids enjoy these eight benefits:
- Two parents—Regular contact with both Mom and Dad is healthier—mentally and physically—for your kids
- Unconditional love—Since you and your ex-wife are in your kids’ lives in equal measures, your kids feel your unconditional love and support, and know they are wanted by both of you
- Freedom to love—With shared custody, your kids are not pressured into “choosing” one parent over the other; they can return love to both their mother and father
- Less conflict—Kids adapt quickly to two households and two sets of house rules, while you and your ex-wife will find fewer issues to argue over
- Less stress—A predictable pattern of shared time, plus joint responsibility for the children, makes everyone less stressed from day to day
- Less legal entanglement—Studies show that parents with joint or shared custody tend not to relitigate their divorce (dragging the other parent back to court over money, or access to the children)
- Better parenting—No matter how much you adore your children, you still get a break from them when they head over to their mother’s house, giving you respite and protecting both of you from parental burnout
- Childcare—When children legally reside with only one parent, childcare emergencies can be devastating.; with shared custody, the child can legally be in either parent’s house as needed, so you can help out their Mom and she can help you out in a pinch
Shared Custody & Child Support
Many parents who agree to shared custody find they do not fight over the children or money. Since both parents are working for the best interests of their children, they share the psychological responsibility to provide for them. This means they tend not to use money as a weapon against the other parent. Since shared custody means you will have your children with you in quick rotation after they are with their mother, you cannot duck the responsibility to support them financially, and neither can she.
This is common sense. If you have the children for two straight weeks you cannot ignore the clothes they have outgrown, or the need for a haircut, or any of those little day-to-day reminders that your children have constant needs. You have access to your kids and want them to be well-adjusted, happy children, so you provide the new clothes and the nail polish and the haircuts and the…well, you get our drift.
Contact a Custody Lawyer Virginia Beach Trusts
To find out more about the advantages and benefits of shared custody, call the Virginia Beach offices of The Firm for Men at 757-383-9184 or contact us. We can help you develop a plan to present to your wife or ex-wife so that you, she, and the children all benefit. While we have sympathy for second-place finishers, we pride ourselves on being first place finishers in fighting for the rights of men in Virginia!