There is a strong presumption in custody disputes that siblings will stay together during parenting time. The underlying notion being that when children are separated they become unsettled and may be distressed as a result of the change. The Court’s paramount concern in any custody consideration is the best interest of the children and continuity and stability are critical.
Usually, whether siblings will be kept together it is not even at issue in a case. However, periodically, we do see cases where children are separated under various circumstances. There is no general rule that the children must be kept together. It is possible that is in in their best interest, in the Court’s eyes, that the children be separated.
We recently encountered an instance of siblings being separated where the Court found two sisters were strongly misbehaving during their parenting time with their mother. On a temporary basis, the Court ordered that the children have separate parenting time with their mother and ordered the family attend therapy to explore the root of the issues. In another recent case with 2 daughters, the parents agreed that each would live with one daughter. The children openly discussed the separation with a mediator and expressed they were comfortable with the separation.
In some cases, provided the siblings still maintain a relationship with each other, the Court may find it is an appropriate choice.