The courts prefer to keep siblings together for stability, companionship and close family ties. “Young brothers and sisters need each other’s strengths and association in their everyday and often common experiences, and to separate them, unnecessarily, is likely to be traumatic and harmful.” Obey v. Degling, 37 N.Y.2d 768 (1975). However, the courts will order split custody if it’s in the best interest of each child to live with a different parent. See Matter of Bilodeau v. Bilodeau, 161 AD2d 906 (3rd Dept 1990).
Consider splitting the children in separate households if the children are exceptionally abusive and combative with each other, one of the children has mental health problems that negatively impact the other child or the children have special bonds with different parents and prefer to live in different households.
If the children are in different households, the parents must consider the frequency and duration of sibling visitation. For example, the children may live with different parents during the week, but live with the same parent during the weekend.
This is an excerpt from my new book “Onward and Upward: Guide for Getting Through New York Divorce & Family Law Issues” available on Amazon, Kindle and iBooks. This is an except from the chapter I wrote with the talented Bonnie Mohr. I also wrote the Chapter on Mediation, which also discusses mediation on disputes like this. Not only am I a family law litigator, but I am also a trained mediator for divorce, child custody and visitation disputes, and commercial mediation. The book is chalk full of great advice on a myriad of family law issues ranging from prenups, child custody disputes, and divorce/annulments. The book’s special sauce is that it has over 48 authors, including many nonlawyer authors, writing on both legal and nonlegal topics. More info on the book can be found here.