'Everybody likes it more when it's even'
Joint physical custody from the children’s perspective
Keywords:joint physical custody, childhood studies, child custody, children’s rights
In April 2022, the Polish Children’s Ombudsman publicly addressed the Minister of Justice, demanding changes in family law regarding child custody post-parental separation. The Ombudsman pointed out the lack of a legal definition of joint physical custody (JPC) and suggested there should be a clear definition and associated regulation. The Ombudsman’s address is one part of the debate on JPC that has recently emerged in Poland. Politicians, mothers, and fathers are actively engaged in the debate, with each of their voices well represented. Both supporters and opponents of joint physical custody claim that their main concern is the best interest of the child. However, no attempts have been made to listen to children’s opinions about custodial arrangements.
This article is based on interviews with 23 children living in JPC. I asked the children about their everyday experience of home and belonging and their relationships with their parents, siblings, and parents’ new partners. I also asked their opinions on how custodial arrangements should be made to suit them. The interviewees complained about the inconvenience of frequent moves but also stated that living with their mother and father interchangeably allowed them to be as close to each of the parents as they desired. For this reason, the interviewees considered JPC a preferable solution after divorce.
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