How to Establish Child Custody During Separation


As soon as parents separate, they need to make decisions about how they will handle child custody. It's important to make custody arrangements during this time, so the children can still be with both parents.

  • Before either parent moves out of the house, both parents should sit down and discuss the issues about child custody. Make sure you allow enough time to thoroughly talk about all the issues.

  • Decide where the children will live. Generally, the children do best if they can stay in the same home. This usually means the parent who also stays in the home has custody of the children. The parent who has been the primary caretaker of the children should be the one to stay with them.

  • Talk about the children visiting the other parent. The mother and father should decide how frequently and how long the other parent will visit with the children. This should be influenced by how often the children saw their parents before the separation. If both parents were very involved in the children's lives, the parents should try to keep that up.

  • When deciding about visitation, the parents should also consider the best environment for visiting. Sometimes the children do better if the other parent visits them in their own home for a while. If the children are going to another place to visit, the parents should decide how the children will be transported from place to place. If there are overnight visits, they need to talk about what the children need at each home.

  • The mother and father also need to talk about how they will take care of financial matters during their separation. They should talk about how they will continue to provide for their children and how they will pay for expenses, and make a plan for how they will handle all of this.

  • Depending on the separation situation, the parents may take their plan to court and have it made into a temporary custody order. This makes the terms and conditions legally binding.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some parents try an approach called bird nesting. This is when the children stay in the home and the parents rotate their time with them in the house. In this situation, the parents have to have another place to live.
  • It's possible to file for temporary child support during separation.
  • The custody arrangement during separation has a big influence on a permanent custody situation if that need arises. Take time to make a feasible schedule during separation, and things will go more smoothly later on.


  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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