superhero kidsMore and more children are being raised in split homes. For some children, having different rules in the two homes causes anxiety and difficulty adapting. The two homes may be different with new lives and new families of their own. Where one home may emphasize academic achievement with quiet intellectual conversations; the other home may prioritize family time and bonding.

In Texas, and especially in Dallas County, divorce court judges prioritize keeping the parents in close geographic proximity to encourage frequent contact between the child and both parents. This geographic restriction is placed on virtually all families who seek court intervention in their reliationship, whether married and divorcing, or not married and seeking definitive court orders. These geographic restrictions permit both parents to attend ball games and dance recitals and remain involved in their child’s activities even when it is not that parent’s period of possession.

But as these children grow into adults, going between the two parents’ homes helps develop important skills for adults. One of those qualities instilled as a byproduct of shared custody may be the desire for stability. The instability of their childhood creates adults that value and want stability. Also the grown-up children have a knack for agility – adapting, switching gears, blending in. Families need to be strong but flexible to accommodate the changes in lives.

Some people may view shared custody arrangements as a negative, providing that the child never has a sense of “home” in any one spot. But, viewing the positive side, children can benefit from experiencing different environments, adapting to new rules, shifting from one set of priorities to another. These experiences can build skills that help adults adjust to life experiences that others who had different upbringing might not be prepared to deal with.

Hat tip to Rachelle Bergstein’s The Secret Superpower of a Shared-Custody Kid from the New York Times Well Blog.

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.