A shared custody agreement often involves children splitting their time between two households — mom’s and dad’s. A 50/50 time split may seem “fair” on the outside looking in, but it might not be in the child’s best interests based on a number of factors. When considering a 50/50 split between two parents, lifestyle elements must be taken into consideration. Things like work schedules, school schedules, after school sports or club activities, and how open (or not) communication is between the parents. Also, the emotional support or lack thereof that the child receives from each parent should be considered.
If one parent leans on the child for emotional support in a kind of role reversal, when parents live together the child can turn to the other parent for emotional support, but when parents no longer live together, this role reversal can be too burdensome for a child. Adjusting to two different parent styles when parents live apart may be impossible for children, especially when they are quite young. What is in the best interests of the child or children should be the deciding factor in determining a “fair” custody arrangement.
Six Common Types of 50/50 Visitation Schedules
If a split visitation schedule is determined to be in the best interests of the child or children, there are several different types of common residential schedules where each parent has the child for 50% of the time.
Here are six common types of 50/50 visitation schedules:
1) Alternating Weeks – Your child or children spend one week with one parent and the next week with the other parent.
2) Alternating Every 2 Days – Your child switches between parents every 2 days.
3) 2-Weeks Each – Your child spends two weeks with one parent and then two weeks with the other parent.
4) 3-4-4-3 Schedule – Your child spends three days with one parent, the next four days with the other parent, then the child spends four days with the first parent, followed by three days with the other parent.
5) 2-2-5-5- Schedule – Your child spends two days with each parent and then five days with each parent.
6) 2-2-3 Schedule – Your child spends two days with one parent, then two days with the other parent, followed by days with the first parent. The next week the pattern switches.
You may find that one of these common schedules works best for you and your children after divorce, or you may come up with a totally different visitation schedule that accommodates everyone’s needs and works best for both parents and children. 50/50 schedules can benefit a child by giving the child substantial time living with both parents, allowing the child to feel cared for by both parents and build a close relationship with both parents. However, it is vital that parents consider the best interests of the children first, over their own preferences or convenience. Switching households back and forth all the time can be difficult for children, and sometimes rather than giving them a sense of shared parenting or stability, it can cause the children to feel as though they don’t really have a stable home anywhere.
If you decide a 50/50 schedule is for you, keep in mind that these schedules work best when parents live close to each other, so exchanges are easier. The ability to communicate with each other about the child without fighting also helps facilitate a 50/50 schedule. In addition, if the child is able to handle switching between his or her parents’ homes without causing undue stress, and both parents are in agreement that the 50/50 schedule is the best one for their child and are committed to putting the child’s best interest first, this split schedule can work well for all concerned.