An Argument for Alternating Custody

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Different countries address family law in a variety of ways. In the United States, rulings tend to be on a case-by-case basis, decided in a court of family law. A Cincinnati child custody attorney will approach any case on its own merits, and with its own unique considerations.

One country in Europe has debated the issue of child custody for the past 15 years, with the goal of having a default national law regarding parental care of children after a split.

That country is Luxembourg, where politicians have encouraged this move to reduce the time needed for divorce proceedings. Their idea was that, if separations and divorces could be granted more easily and in a more streamlined fashion, there would be less stress for both the separating parents and for the children impacted.

As Sarah Cames and Heledd Pritchard reported in the Luxembourg Times in August 2021, the law was initially passed in 2018, and the ensuing three years have involved additional debate and collection of opinions from child welfare experts.

The prevailing opinion, in Luxembourg and in other countries in the region, is that alternating weeks of child custody should become the standard, default child care situation for divorced or separated parents.

The move toward full weeks of care is designed to make the transitions as seamless and simple for the children as possible. Rather than alternating during the week, the longer seven-day periods in each home would give the child more of a chance to settle into a routine and a comfortable pattern of living.

Equality between the parents, in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of the children, is also of tantamount importance in this piece of legislation.

Child psychologists weighed in on the subject, and spoke about the importance of equity – both emotional and material – in the perception of the children. Up until now, mothers in Luxembourg have been far more likely to gain full custody of the children after a separation.

The country has a position of “children’s ombudsman,” and the role is currently occupied by Charel Schmidt.

“We need to invert the logic,” said Schmidt, “and put in place a standard, egalitarian model where exceptions are decided before a court.”

Exceptions would still be possible. Individual parents could still file suit to request sole custody, or to ask the Court for primary custody in more of a 70/30 time split.

This new legislation would also impact each parent’s ability to apply for public housing, or “social housing” as it is called in Luxembourg. The goal there is for issues of money to not factor into parents deciding how much time they can or should spend with their children.