Researchers have found that children who spend time with both parents following a divorce tend to fare better, and family law judges in Kentucky and around the country now order joint custody far more often as a result. However, making a co-parenting plan work is not always possible, and there are situations where such arrangements could actually do children more harm than good.

This kind of parenting plan is not feasible when divorced parents live far apart, or one of them has a career that involves extensive travel. Co-parenting is also not an option when one of the divorced parents is incarcerated. However, judges avoid ordering co-parenting arrangements most often when one of the parents poses some sort of threat to the well-being of the child or children involved.

Judges may feel this way when parents are struggling with addiction, associate with disreputable individuals or are prone to sexual behavior that would be inappropriate for children to witness. Individuals with a history of violent behavior may also find it difficult to convince a judge to award them joint custody. However, co-parenting plans most often fail when ex-spouses are unable to get past the issues that caused their marriages to fail and use their children as a way to get back at one another. This kind of behavior can lead to parental alienation, which can hamper children later in life.

Experienced family law attorneys will often address child support and custody early in divorce negotiations because even couples that harbor great animosity toward each other can usually rise above it when it comes to their children’s best interests. When even discussing parenting issues leads to bickering and arguments, attorneys may suggest pursuing different approaches, such as mediation, to break the impasse and avoid a protracted, bitter and costly court battle.