Why the joint physical custody model is a big NO


​Many of the mothers with a toxic Ex partner who find me at some point realize that it was a big mistake to have gone for a trial of the joint physical custody, or shared residential custody, model right at the beginning of the separation.

The trial joint physical custody model is a big fraud – on the mothers and especially on the children!

By the way, at this point I like to remind you that this is a blog for mothers with a toxic-narcissistic Ex-partner.

This means that I exclusively discuss aspects for affected mothers and help them to get back on their feet and into clarity emotionally and mentally.

If, on the other hand, your Ex is a kind, attentive, empathetic man who still treats you with respect and appreciation and is a devoted father to your child, then you don’t even need to read any further.

Because then you won’t have this problem that I’m about to get into!

In all separations in which one of the parents is suspected of having a narcissistic personality disorder because his behavior does not allow any other conclusions – and in our case this is the father of the child – the trial joint physical custody model is a decision with far-reaching, extremely stressful effects on the life of the mother AND the children.

Before I explain why you should not agree to a trial joint physical custody model, let me first tell you when a joint physical custody model would be the optimal model for a child:

Reasons for joint physical custody model

  1. You and your Ex can communicate well even after the separation. He has always treated you well before the separation and is a fair man.
  2. He has been intensively involved in the care work since the birth of the child. He has always been a loving, attentive, present father. There is therefore a strong bond with the child.
  3. You live close to each other, and the child can continue his friendships and hobbies.
  4. The child is over 10/12 years old (individual degree of maturity!) and wants it for himself.
  5. Siblings can move together and are not separated.
  6. Both parents have a high income to be able to put away the considerable additional costs for a joint physical custody model.

The trial joint physical custody model is fake and window dressing

It sounds so nice like a compromise – and that you can end it again quickly if things don’t work out.

But that’s not true.

Especially empathetic mothers who are anything but riotous and never want to go to court voluntarily – and who are already intimidated by their ex’s aggressiveness and believe him for all his threats – are ready to make an incredible number of concessions at the beginning.

The main thing is that the separation is as peaceful as possible.

They want peace.

They want a beautiful separation based on partnership, which is carried out and lived with the greatest care for the children.

They want the father to remain present for the children, that they can go to him and that he also remains a contact person for all important decisions that are pending for the children.

But this ideal simply clashes with reality.

Because on the other side there is no father who wants the best. Who worries about what the child thinks and what conflict of loyalties they could get into.

On the other side of the parental relationship is not a man who wishes the mother of his children a good life – even if it didn’t work out with himself.

On the other hand, there is much more a man who has only one goal:

To pay as little money as possible for this woman.

On the other side is a man who can never be defeated. Who sits in the empty house thinking his Ex has everything and he has nothing.

Who has just lost his status in the neighborhood, at work, in front of his boss or his customers, because now it’s obvious: he didn’t have that ideal family at all that he used to show off.

It is quite possible that this man is driven by an immoderate control addiction. Who wants to know exactly what his Ex is doing right now, thinks, decides, whom she meets and with whom she talks about him.

He reacts full of hate and shows it blatantly in direct encounters with his Ex. Not necessarily when third parties are standing by – but that happens too, depending on how well he masters his mask.

All these are classic characteristics after a breakup with a man who very likely has a narcissistic personality disorder.

And one means of getting several of his needs met at once is the joint physical custody model.

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Because joint physical custody model means:

1) Not having to pay alimony or having to pay very little alimony.

Note: child support is always equated by the toxic father with support for the wife, although there is still separation support, which could be additionally available to the wife).

Even if you can’t claim across the board that no child support at all has to be paid in the joint physical custody model – depending on how striking the salary differences between the parents are – the calculation is quite complicated.

Then, for example, the assistance of the youth welfare office, which normally takes care of maintenance issues and handles the collection and regular reminders, is already out of the picture.

So specialized lawyers have to be called in to work it out. (At least that’s my current knowledge – please comment below this article if that’s no longer true).

The bottom line is that the sums that are determined after these elaborate calculations and expensive lawyer hours are rather ridiculous compared to the maintenance amounts of the Düsseldorfer Table (used in Germany as a guideline for calculating maintenance payments to dependents), to which the residence model children are entitled.

2) He keeps the control

Managing the joint physical custody model on a day-to-day basis is no walk in the park with a toxic narcissistic parent on the other side.

Everything, really everything, has to be discussed and debated. There are countless “points of contact” between the highly conflicted parties, and a traumatized woman in particular, because she has been emotionally abused, is constantly exposed again to his poisonous emails, which she must answer.

While there are two face-to-face handoffs every other weekend in the residential model with young children, they may open the door and face the Ex every other day.

She just can’t get any peace. This man is constantly standing in front of the door! In front of her door to her shelter, mind you.

It’s quite possible that she sees him even more often now after the breakup than before!

He is really always present. He gets everything.

Of course, all outsiders want the child’s father to continue to be an integral part, even if the couple relationship has ended. However, this is only desirable if both can look each other in the eye respectfully and still with understanding.

Anything else allows the former abuser, who has been emotionally or even physically abusive in the relationship, to continue to abuse.

The mental remedy of choice – the Gray Rock Method, which is recommended for mothers with a toxic Ex – is difficult to apply in the joint physical custody model, because something constantly needs to be clarified: Is the homework done? Where is the hat? Do you have the rain boots with you? The chemistry book is still here, won’t Tim need it tomorrow?

Sure, these questions come up in the residency model, too – but they don’t have to be resolved right away.

3) A trial joint physical custody model creates evidence

Now you know why the joint physical custody model with a toxic-narcissistic Ex-partner is crap.

“But a joint physical custody model on a trial basis is not final, it can be cancelled, can’t it?” you may now be thinking.

Fiddlesticks, sweetheart. It’s not that simple.

Do you want to feel confident about managing child hand-offs with your toxic ex?


The keyword is: continuity principle.

So let’s assume you’ve just separated, and your Ex suddenly becomes remarkably friendly with you when it comes to the question of how often the children should come to him. And he suggests the joint physical custody model.

But you haven’t read anything good about it and hesitate.

And then comes: “It doesn’t have to be forever – but let’s try it. After half a year we’ll be wiser, then we’ll change it again.”

Most dangerous moment ever, sweetheart!

Especially when YOU have been the main caregiver for your children in the time before the separation!

Especially if YOU were taking care of the kids 24/7.

Especially if YOU worked part-time and put your career ambitions on hold for the children so that he could climb his self-employment or career ladder. Or even been completely at home.

Right now, at this point, there is continuity for your children.

Namely YOU and the daily rhythm, as you have worked it out with the children in the meantime. YOU are currently the one who exemplifies the structure and thus gives the children support and orientation in everyday life.

And YOU are the one who, with your empathy and sensitivity, will now help the children to ease the shift into the post-marital separation period by only having to slightly adapt the structures (you will manage it quickly, anyway).

And that is exactly what a CONTINUITY is for the children now!

Introducing the joint physical custody model is a whole different ballgame.

There EVERYTHING is turned upside down.

At least for the children.

If the children are very far apart in age, this can mean that they would have to change differently.

The children are required to make a huge adjustment after the separation of their parents.

What is demanded of the children with the introduction of the joint physical custody model, on the other hand, is many times greater.

And you will notice it. Guaranteed.

And they will start telling you that they would rather be at home with you. They will long for the old, quiet structures. And in the beginning, you may still feel obligated to stick to the agreement with the Ex, and put the kids off.

Children in the joint physical custody model react quite differently. Some come to terms with it at some point or they resign.

I have written before in this blog article about how a child can experience the joint physical custody model.

You stand next to it and just think: I would never want to live like that myself.

Especially since it breaks your heart as a mother to watch your child give up. Or what problems have arisen at school that were not there before.

And you tell your Ex that you want to stop the joint physical custody model again.

Do you know what your Ex’s response will be then? Do you suspect it?

“No. Go to court if you think so.”

And what will the judge say?

“The children are used to it now. The continuity principle applies here. We’ll leave it at that.”

And thus the joint physical residency model is then adopted.

Of course you can fight against the decision afterwards. Then you will have to apply for the right to determine place of residence, and you will most likely get an expert opinion with all the trimmings, an infinite amount of toxic energy and a multitude of uncontrollable dynamic factors.

Months can easily go by. And years.

Precious years in your child’s life. 😔

In summary

A joint physical custody model on a trial basis does not exist.

It is a way of removing the existing continuity in the child’s life and replacing it with a new, more unsettled one that is difficult to remove afterwards.

The term is readily used to lull into a false sense of security the parent who senses that this is not right for the child.

You actually have to fight it from the start and you can’t let yourself be backed into a corner either!

Many mothers have told me that they have been pressured by judges to agree to a joint physical custody model on a trial basis. Here you need a tough and very capable lawyer to step into the breach for you and protect you.

I know there are always many factors at play – but harmony addiction at the wrong time is not appropriate!

That is the perfidious part of the situation: You have the feeling that you are the quarrelsome, uncooperative party, but a joint physical custody model on trial is not a compromise that YOU make – YOUR CHILD has to live the compromise!

Did you participate in the joint physical custody model on a trial basis and were you able to turn it off again? What was it like for you? Please leave your comment below so other moms with a toxic Ex can learn from it. Thank you!

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