After divorce, the time comes for the custody agreement. A 50/50 shared custody schedule sounds the best, but is that actually the case? Moreover, would it work for your family?
Let’s clear this up right away: even if your co-parent agreement isn’t 50/50, that doesn’t mean that it is bad. All that matters is that your child is happy.
Having said that, if it were possible for your family, I’d say that’s the best way to go.
So, how would it actually work? What are the decisions you need to make?
Let’s talk about that.
What is 50/50 Co-Parenting?
A 50/50 co-parenting schedule means that your children spend approximately an equal amount of time with each parent, enabling them to form strong bonds and spend quality time with both of their parents, in addition to a slew of other benefits.
In fact, an Uppsala University study shows that preschool children in joint physical custody have less psychological symptoms and behavioural problems than those who live mostly or only with one parent after a separation. Moreover, children whose parents follow a shared parenting schedule have better outcomes across a variety of measures of well-being than children in sole physical custody.
That being said, it has to be noted that 50/50 shared parenting won’t be possible for all co-parents. Some things have to be considered first - the distance between the co-parents, the quality of relationship and communication between the co-parents, and their work schedules.
How far away from each other do co-parents live? 50/50 co-parenting comes with various schedules (weekly, 2-2-3. 3-3-4-4, 2-2-5-5, etc) which is why significant distance between the homes can pose problems for both the co-parents and the child, especially if the exchanges should happen multiple times per week.
How good is your relationship with your ex? 50/50 co-parenting demands frequent coordination and communication. Would you be able to avoid unnecessary conflict with your ex? You will run late, they will run late, someone in the store will be rude, you’ll get held up at work, but you’ll both need to keep your cool to preserve your co-parenting relationship.
What do your work schedules look like? You’ll have to juggle three things around - your work and activity schedule, your co-parents work and activity schedule, and your child’s school, extra-curriculars, and social life schedules. My advice is to start with your work schedules, and your child’s schedule, divide your time with the child, and only then start planning other activities for yourself with the time that you have left.
After that’s said, you and your ex should analyze your situation to see whether you’d be able to handle 50/50 co-parenting with frequent communication and exchanges. And if your answer is yes, move on to the next section of this post. It’s time to find a schedule that works for you!
How to Find a Co-Parenting Schedule That Works?
50/50 co-parenting is a general principle, but the actual custody schedules come in variants and not all of them will suit your family.
I’ll briefly talk you through the most common shared custody schedules and let you decide for yourself.
You’ll find alternating weeks among the most common 50/50 co-parenting schedules. With this schedule, your child will spend every other week with you.
This could work for you, but just keep in mind that it may not be suited for younger children. While teenagers and older children can go without seeing one of their parents for a week, this may be problematic for the younglings.
Alternating every two weeks
In this schedule, you would exchange children every two weeks. Once again, while bi-weekly shared parenting would work for teenagers, it is too long for younger children.
On another note, this model minimizes the number of exchanges and communication for co-parents so it could be a good solution for co-parents who may not have already worked through all of their issues.
Two nights with you, then two nights with your co-parent, then three nights with you. Then, the model goes the opposite way.
Because young children demand frequent interaction with both of their parents, this is a great schedule for those cases.
2-2-3 only comes with two potential issues - frequent exchanges and communication may be a problem for some co-parents, and because of the constant rotation of days you have the child with you, it may be difficult for you to plan ahead.
This model solves the planning issue of 2-2-3. If you have your first Monday with your children, that will be the case throughout.
Once again, because of the frequent interactions, it is very well suited for families with younger children.
2-2-5-5 provides a little less structure for your shared parenting schedule where you’ll have two of the same days of each week, with the other three days rotating week to week. That being said, it still offers some structure which will help your children cope with the situation more easily.
Analyze your situation to ensure you can handle the 50/50 sharing, and opt for one of the shared custody models. Then make sure you use a shared calendar for all of your plans to avoid any confusion and minimize any conflict.
My recommendation is to use the FamiliPay shared calendar, specifically designed for co-parent in your situation. It checks all the right boxes, and it’s extremely easy to use.
Keep in mind that as your children grow, their habits, wants and needs will change, so you may need to adapt this schedule. You and your co-parent should sit down at least once per year to assess whether your current agreement is working, or whether something needs to change.
Start filling in your shared FamiliPay calendar today. Start your free trial!