Split Custody Defined

Split custody is when parents with multiple children each have sole physical custody of different children.

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When to have a split custody arrangement

Parents should consider a split custody arrangement when:

  • A child has behavioral problems and does better with one parent. When a child behaves better for one of the parents, that parent can have custody of the child while the other parent has custody of the other children.
  • The children don't get along with each other. If your children have a very difficult time getting along with each other, more than age-typical sibling rivalry and fighting, you may want to separate your children. You should also seek professional help with this situation.
  • The children have special needs. If one or more of your children has special medical, developmental, educational, emotional, or social needs it might be easier for the parents to split the custody of the children.
  • A child has better opportunities with one parent. If a parent lives in an area that has better educational opportunities or opportunities to pursue an interest for one of the children, the parent in that area could have custody of that child.
  • The child wants it. As children become teenagers you can take their wishes into consideration for custody. If one child wants to live with a different parent you may want to try it.

You can implement split custody right after a separation or you can change your custody arrangements if it seems like it would benefit your child.

Split custody arrangements are uncommon because most parents and courts think it is best for siblings to remain together after a separation or divorce. The biggest concern with split custody is your children being able to spend time with both parents and other siblings.

Making split custody work

For a split custody arrangement, you need to make a custody schedule for each child. Since it can be complicated to keep track of multiple custody schedules, you should explore schedule options to find ones that will work for your situation.

In addition to scheduling parenting time, you need to arrange for times for the children to be with the siblings. For example, you could have the children together on the weekends and alternate the weekends between parents.

You can also use your holiday schedule and/or a summer break schedule to give your children time together and time with the other parent.

Split custody can be complicated. It works best when both parents agree to the arrangements and are committed to making them work.

Creating parenting plans for split custody

Creating a parenting plan can feel overwhelming, especially when it has to address split custody.

Use technology to take the guesswork out of the equation. The Custody X Change app walks you through each step of creating a comprehensive parenting plan.

For split custody, you'll make multiple plans — one per parent or, if each child has different needs, one per child.

This is easy with Custody X Change. Just follow the usual steps to create multiple plans. You can even duplicate the first plan so you don't have to start from scratch on the others.

The easiest, most affordable way to make parenting plans for split custody is with Custody X Change.

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Long distance schedules

Third party schedules


Summer break

Parenting provisions


How to make a schedule

Factors to consider

Parenting plans:

Making a parenting plan

Changing your plan

Interstate, long distance

Temporary plans

Guides by location:

Parenting plans

Scheduling guidelines

Child support calculators

Age guidelines:

Birth to 18 months

18 months to 3 years

3 to 5 years

5 to 13 years

13 to 18 years


Joint physical custody

Sole physical custody

Joint legal custody

Sole legal custody

Product features:

Software overview

Printable calendars

Parenting plan templates

Journal what happens

Expense sharing

Parenting time tracking

Calculate time & overnights

Ways to use:

Succeed by negotiating

Prepare for mediation

Get ready for court


Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

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