The Great Custody Debate: Sole vs. Joint in High Conflict Divorces

Is Sole Custody Ever Warranted Over Joint Custody?

In this episode, Bill and Megan dive into the controversial topic of sole custody versus joint custody in divorce and child custody matters. They aim to answer the question: Is sole custody ever warranted, or is the principle of equal time with both parents always the best policy?

Presumptions for Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody
Bill explains that throughout the United States and most industrialized countries, there’s a belief that both parents should be significantly involved with the children, generally called joint physical custody. However, he emphasizes that 80% of divorcing and separating parents don’t use the courts to make their parenting decisions, as they’re able to do it on their own. Sole custody, on the other hand, is only considered when there’s a problem, such as when a parent has a personality disorder or exhibits high conflict behavior.

The Impact of Personality Disorders on Children
Bill discusses the impact of personality disorders on children, citing research that shows children exposed to a parent with a personality disorder without the benefit of another parent to soften that can experience emotional difficulties six times higher. In these cases, having sole custody with a more reasonable parent may be necessary for the child’s mental health. However, Bill believes that children should still have some contact with both parents, even if it’s limited.

Navigating High Conflict Custody Cases
Megan and Bill explore how a parent being dragged into court or reported to child services can navigate these situations. They emphasize the need for courts to be more aware of the presence and dynamics of personality disorders and the lack of change in these individuals. Bill also cautions against putting the decision-making responsibility on the children, as it can be a terrible idea to put them in that position.

Questions we answer in this episode:

  • Is sole custody ever warranted, or is joint custody always the best policy?
  • How does a parent being dragged into court or reported to child services navigate these situations?
  • Why is it a bad idea for courts to ask children about their preference for who they want to live with?
  • How can parents and professionals be educated about having multiple perspectives in high conflict cases?
  • What skills can parents and children learn to help with high conflict situations?

Key Takeaways:

  • Sole custody should only be considered when there’s a problem, such as a parent with a personality disorder or high conflict behavior.
  • Children exposed to a parent with a personality disorder without another parent to soften that can experience significant emotional difficulties.
  • Courts need to be more aware of the presence and dynamics of personality disorders and the lack of change in these individuals.
  • Putting the decision-making responsibility on children in custody cases can be a terrible idea.
  • Teaching parents and children skills such as flexible thinking, managed emotions, and moderate behavior can help with high conflict situations.

This episode provides valuable insights into the complex world of high conflict custody cases and offers practical advice for parents and professionals navigating these situations. By exploring the nuances of sole custody versus joint custody and discussing the impact of personality disorders on children, Bill and Megan shed light on a topic that affects many families going through divorce or separation.

Links & Other Notes

Note: We are not diagnosing anyone in our discussions, merely discussing patterns of behavior.

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