How does 50/50 joint custody work?

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You may often hear the phrase “50/50 custody” with regard to custody arrangements, and other than thinking it means equal periods of time, you may not know anything more.
Having equal periods of physical custody between parents starts as a baseline for a family to work out in a way that suits their particular needs.
Here are the most common 50/50 custody plans:

Alternating weeks. In this plan, the parents alternate seven consecutive days and nights of physical custody. It has a clear advantage in ease of implementation – it is very simple to remember and schedule. It has a clear disadvantage in that the child will go a week without time in the physical custody of one parent.

The 3-4-4-3 schedule. In this plan, the child spends three days with one parent, four days with the other parent, then four days back to the first parent and closing with three days with the other parent. It has the advantage of flexibility, as the parents can pick what day of the week to start the series. So, for example, if one parent travels for work, it can be set in a way that fits that parent’s travel schedule. It also has the advantage of more frequent periods of time with each parent. Its principal disadvantage would be that it might seem more difficult to track and make it a bit more confusing for the child.

The 2-2-5-5 schedule and the 5/2 schedule. In these plans, each a variation of the other, the idea is essentially that during the week (Monday through Thursday), each parent will have two days/nights of custody, and then the parents alternate weekends. These plans have the advantage of fairness, in that the child sees each parent during the week for at least two days and has one full weekend with each parent for every two week block. These plans tend to be the most common of the 50/50 schedules. It has the advantage of keeping both parents involved in the school week, and makes for easy planning for weekend events. In terms of disadvantage, it does have a period of 5 days without seeing the other parent.

How to choose among different plans?

First, think about what the child needs. Does the child have difficulty transitioning from house to house? If so, a plan that limits transitions might be preferable. Does the child need frequent time with each parent? If so, a plan that switches frequently would work. Also, the needs of the child likely will change as the child gets older, so the parents need to be flexible.

Second, think about feasibility. If one parent travels out of town without a fixed schedule, this type of rigid demarcation may need some modification. If work schedules will limit having lots of actual physical time together during a period of custody, think about a different schedule.

Third, be willing to improvise to create a plan best suited for your family.

If you have questions about 50/50 custody plans, contact us – we can help.

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