Custody Arrangements That Would’ve Worked Better Than the Bat-Shit Idea “The Parent Trap” Parents Cooked Up

You tie the knot on a lavish boat in 1986. You sail off to a romantic future. You welcome identical twins on October 11. Somewhere along the way, you hit a rough patch. Despite her sublime British accent and his hunky Hollywood charm, you can’t make it work. You split up.

It happens to the best of us.

But then, for some godforsaken reason, you concoct a custody arrangement so bat-shit it takes an entire movie to unravel: Separating Hallie and Annie. Cutting off communication with one of your kids. Hiding the whole plot from the girls.

You could have just as easily pursued 8 options that are not that:

OPTION 1: Tell your daughter she has a sibling and let her do with that information what she will.
A simple disclaimer might be nice. Something like: “How was school today? You have a twin, by the way. You didn’t know because of this whole dumb-ass scheme I came up with in the 1980s. You’re both allergic to strawberries; that might be a fun thing for you two to chat about.”

OPTION 2: Maybe ask Chessy and Martin? They seem smarter than you.
What good are cheery, platonic employees if you cannot turn to them from time to time and say, “Hey, is the custody arrangement I hammered out with my ex insane?”

OPTION 3: Have the twins spend school years in London and breaks in Napa.
Or vice-versa. The specifics literally do not matter as long as you do not do the one thing you did.

OPTION 4: Move nearby to co-parent the twins.
Can’t Nick grow grapes and pursue gorgeous, witchy women at a British vineyard? Can’t Elizabeth design dresses and throw hairdryers in California?

OPTION 5: Give Meredith a call. She might have a better idea.
Meredith wanted to ship the girls off to boarding school. She did not want to ship the girls off to separate boarding schools. Therefore Meredith places more value on family than you do.

OPTION 6: Write your phone number on the back of that torn-up photograph.
You know, the photograph that serves as your daughter’s only connection to you because you do not visit. Throw her a bone and scribble your contact information on it.

OPTION 7: Stick to your awful plan, but touch base about your camp selection in advance.
Let’s say you truly must abandon one of your kids in the name of never seeing your hot spouse ever again. At the very least, spend 5 minutes a year dialing up your onetime flame and saying, “I know this is a long shot, given that we live on different continents and all, but is there any chance you’re planning to send your kid to Camp Walden in central Maine? Also, how has my other child been for the past 11 years?”

OPTION 8: Allow the twins to emancipate themselves.
These stunningly competent 11-year-olds would probably fare well if you signed some paperwork and let them roam free. They have wine money and wedding gown money. They’ll be fine.

Pick an option, any option. As they say at Camp Walden: Wow, you’re a really negligent parent.

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