Do You Need to Divide Custody Time Equally?

Each year, roughly 12.9 million parents are navigating all the complex rules of child custody. One of the most common custody arrangements is a joint custody situation, where parents share custody. Though many people assume this means a 50/50 split, there are several situations where less conventional joint custody solutions work better.

Reasons to Rethink 50/50 Custody Arrangements

When many people start thinking about how to decide custody, they assume their only options are one parent getting sole custody or both parents getting exactly the same amount of time with their child. However, things don’t have to be so black and white. Of course, parents want as much time with their child as possible, but it’s important to remember custody arrangements are really about caring for the child.

Many parents are finding that a more relaxed approach helps them stay focused on their child’s needs. Here are some examples of situations where “unequal” custody arrangements actually work better for the child.

  • Both parents live far apart, so moving the child back and forth between households isn’t financially feasible.
  • One of the parents lives near an excellent school, so the child can benefit from living with them during the school year.
  • The child is dealing with behavioral or emotional problems because they cannot handle the stress of constantly switching households.
  • One parent does not have the time or money to arrange childcare on weekdays.
  • A parent has an unconventional work schedule that prevents them from taking the child to school on certain days.
  • Step-siblings that the child doesn’t get along with are occasionally staying with the family.

Other Types of Joint Custody Arrangements to Consider

As you can see, there are all sorts of situations where it’s simply not feasible to have the child moving back and forth between their parents every week. Once you quit assuming that the best custody arrangement is a 50/50 split, you open yourself up to a lot of great options. There are plenty of custody arrangements your child custody lawyer can draft that let the child have a relationship with both parents.

One of the common arrangements that your New Jersey family law attorneys might suggest is letting one parent have custody on weekdays and one on weekends. Another typical custody arrangement involves one parent having custody during the school year and one having custody during the summer. However, don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to these more rigid arrangements. Some parents just try to pick a general percentage of time they want to spend with the child, such as 20 percent of the year, and let the child pick the days.

More Thoughtful Custody Arrangements Lead to Better Family Relationships

When you aren’t focused on trying to ensure you get exactly 50 percent of your child’s time, you may find it easier to build a relationship with your child. First of all, unconventional custody arrangements can reduce parental arguing. Being willing to step back and compromise instead of making everything “fair” helps to keep your child from ending up in the middle of a conflict. This allows your child to build healthier parental relationships instead of feeling like they are a prize both parents are fighting for.

Secondly, these custody arrangements help to prioritize the needs of the child. Instead of obsessing over exactly how much time the child spends with each parent, they look at things like the child’s schooling, healthcare, and home environment. This ensures that the child is in their preferred environment as often as possible. The right custody split can help keep your child from feeling resentful for how a divorce has changed their life.

If you are trying to decide who gets custody, Morgenstern & Rochester is here to help. We can explain your options and help you file all the correct paperwork for an official child custody agreement. And if you and your ex are having custodial disagreements, our team of New Jersey family law attorneys can fight for your rights and ensure your child gets proper care. Schedule a free consultation at our Cherry Hill office by calling 856-489-6200 or sending us a message.