Child custody decisions not only affect you, but most importantly, your children. Therefore, it’s reasonable to want to do what is best for your child and create the right child custody arrangement.
While there is no perfect custody arrangement, whenever possible, 50/50 custody is often best for children. However, when 50/50 is not feasible, many other schedules could suit your family better.
Deciding Child Custody
When making decisions regarding child custody arrangements, it’s imperative to start by determining the type of custody rights each parent will get.
Child custody does not simply just mean where the child lives. Additionally, custody arrangements are dependent on the custody rights each parent gets.
There are two main types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody means where the child resides. Both parents can share physical custody. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the ability to make decisions on the child’s behalf, for example, where they will attend school. Parents can also share legal custody.
Custody can also either be joint or sole. Joint custody gives both parents both physical and legal custody rights to their children. While it does not always mean parents will share a perfect 50/50 schedule, the parents will have heavy involvement in their children’s lives.
In the alternative, sole custody gives just one parent physical and legal custody of their child. While it is not ideal for only one parent to have custody of their child, it is sometimes necessary for the child’s benefit.
Joint custody is the most favorable for children when it is advantageous for everyone involved.
How to Arrange a Child Custody Schedule
When parents are allowed to share custody of their children, this brings up a need to create a child custody schedule that works for both parents and the kids. Making a custody schedule can be up to the parents, but if decisions cannot be made among the parents, the court can step in.
Between Both Parents
It is ideal when both parents can join forces and make decisions for their childrentogether. Parents are free to communicate and create a custody arrangement that would suit the children and their schedules and lives.
When parents require some assistance, it’s possible to use mediation to seek resolution. Mediation brings both parents and their attorneys (if they have legal representation) together to work with a mediator, a neutral third party. The mediator works to facilitate communication and problem-solving among the parties.
If parents can create a custody plan together or through mediation, they can solidify their arrangement into a written agreement and submit it to the court for approval. Once a judge approves it, the arrangement goes into effect.
With the Court
If parents are unable to work together on a custody schedule, a judge can step in and create an arrangement they find best suited for everyone. Judges consider several factors, including each parent’s ability to provide for their child, in order to grant custody rights and come up with a schedule.
Once the court makes its final decisions, they are part of a formal court order. Once a court order is active, there is no changing anything without formally petitioning the court for modification.
Factors Affecting Child Custody
There are Many Child Custody Arrangements
Child custody arrangements are not “one-size-fits-all.” For this reason, parents and courts often follow the more common types of custody arrangements, some of which are listed below. However, parents and courts are also free to set custody schedules that work best for them.
A 50/50 Custody Arrangement is Often in the Child’s Best Interest
When considering what child custody arrangement is best, in most cases, a 50/50 arrangement is in a child’s best interest. This is because a 50/50 arrangement allows a child to have both parents present and active in their lives, something that benefits a child’s life, well-being, and future.
This is especially true when spouses divorce and a child must navigate their new lives without both parents under one roof. It can be difficult to adjust, but sharing custody allows for easier adjustment, as the child knows and expects to spend time with both parents, even if it’s not in a shared home.
Deciding Whether 50/50 is Best for You
Like many things in life, 50/50 custody is not for everyone. There are several factors to consider when deciding whether 50/50 would be best for both the parents and the child.
Generally, a 50/50 custody arrangement works best under the following circumstances:
Both parents live in the same city and are relatively close to each other, making pick-ups and drop-offs easier
The child is able to get used to spending about equal time at both parents’ homes
The parents are willing and able to communicate about the child
The parents agree that a 50/50 schedule would be in the child’s best interests
Both parents are willing to make any adjustments necessary to provide for and support their child
If all of the above are true, a 50/50 child custody arrangement is worth exploring.
Other Common Child Custody Arrangements
Sometimes, a 50/50 arrangement doesn’t work for one reason or another, and that’s okay. In the event sharing custody 50/50 wouldn’t suit the child or parents, the following are some of the other kinds of custody arrangements parents often opt for:
Alternating every two days
Alternating weekends with a weekday evening
Alternating weekends with a weekday overnight
Alternating extended weekends
Two weeks at a time
There truly are no concrete rules when it comes to creating custody arrangements. As long as an arrangement is in the best interest of the child, a judge is likely to approve it.
Hiring a Lawyer and How you Can Save Money
Child custody is a tough matter, and having the right legal guidance is critical. But lawyers are not cheap. Some have retainer fees as high as $7,000 to $10,000.
Whether you need minimal assistance or extensive representation, there are some
ways you can save money such as unbundled legal services. If you would like to learn more about unbundled legal services and other ways you can save money while hiring a lawyer check out this article.