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How to determine whether your family is a good fit for 50/50 custody

When I have the opportunity to meet with a father who is going through a
divorce the one thing that nearly all of these men will tell me is that their
goal is to win 50/50 or “split”
custody of his child. Most of these men are active and involved fathers who have
been there just as much for their child as their wives have. I think somewhere
along the line men have been told that their wives will always win primary
custody of their child and the best they can hope for is a 50/50 split.
This, as it turns out, is not true in the least bit, but that is a topic
for a different day.

When the subject of 50/50 custody is brought up to me I will always tell
the client or potential client that custody is probably the most difficult
subject to navigate within a divorce. It is not only an emotional and
relational problem that must be solved, but also a logistical one. The
fact is that when you are married you and your spouse can share the burden
of picking and dropping children up from school, football practice and
any other event going on in their lives. This is convenient and allows
more flexibility in work schedules for parents.

Once you get a divorce, however, you are on your own for coordinating transportation,
among other things. Consider the fact that now that you are divorced you
will not only have to work through issues regarding transportation to
school and extracurricular events but your child will now have to sit
through car rides to and from both your home and that of your ex-spouse.
What is best for your child? What is best for you? That will be the topic
of today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.

Consider what is in the best interest of your child

The
best interest of your child is what a judge ultimately will be asked to decide should
your divorce case make it before him or her. Whatever possession schedule
lines up best for your child is likely what a judge would implement should
you and your spouse not be able to settle your case before a trial.

A Standard Possession Order (SPO) is the statutorily based schedule that is tried and true. It is the typical
possession order that is provided to the non-primary conservator of your
child. It is presumed that this schedule is in the best interest of your
child. If your case makes it all the way to a trial you and/or your spouse
would need to present sufficient evidence to rebut this presumption.

First, third and fifth weekends of each month go to the non primary parent.
Holidays will alternate between you and your spouse. If you are the parent
with a standard possession order you will likely have an extended period
of possession lasting thirty days each summer. All in all, there is an
approximate 55/45 split in possession time between your ex-spouse and
you under a SPO.

Seeing as how a SPO gets you almost the point of having 50/50 custody you
don’t have to do much to negotiate for more time with your child.
An expanded SPO allows you a few more hours with your child each week
which pushes the ratio of time with your child to even nearer the goal
mark of 50/50.

How a 50/50 possession schedule looks in detail

There is more than one way to achieve a 50/50 split in custody. Depending
on the specifics of your family one way will likely look preferable when
compared to another way. Let’s examine a few 50/50 possession schedules
that I have seen clients utilize in the past few years.

For instance, you and your ex-spouse could institute a possession schedule
where one parent possesses your child on Monday and Tuesday before having
your child stay with the other parent for Wednesday and Thursday. The
weekend visitation would alternate from week to week. In this way each
parent would have five straight days of possession every other week. I
like this plan before it allows both you and your ex-spouse to alternate
fairly extended periods of possession on a bi-weekly basis. It works especially
well for older children who do not need to see each of their parents multiple
times each week.

Another plan that I have seen utilized is a 2-2-3 possession schedule.
It is very similar to the plan that we just finished laying out above
with one major difference. In any given week, you would have possession
of your child on Monday and Tuesday. Your child’s other parent would
have possession on Wednesday and Thursday with you having weekend possession
that lasts Friday through Sunday. The following week your ex-spouse would
take Monday and Tuesday, you would take Wednesday and Thursday and your
ex-spouse would take the weekend. If your child is younger (and you and
your ex-spouse live fairly close together) this is an ideal possession schedule.

Finally, we will consider the most straightforward of all the possession
schedules- the week on, week off. This one leaves little to the imagination.
You and your ex-spouse would alternate week-long periods of possession
throughout the school year. Holiday visitation would likely look more
akin to what is contained in a SPO. High school aged children, especially
when their parents live close to one another, benefit from the consistency
and lack of needing to move constantly between houses, benefit from week
on/week off possession schedules.

Is your family prepared to take on a 50/50 possession schedule?

As I stated at the outset of today’s blog post, you need to consider
whether or not a 50/50 possession schedule is what is in your child’s
best interests. I have the distinct impression that many parents will
push for 50/50 custody for no other reason than to try to avoid paying
child support or as an “ego” thing. You would be well served
to look at your child and yourself long and hard to see if a 50/50 split
is likely to work well.

To do so you need to examine your work schedule, that of your spouse as
well as where each of you are likely to live, post-divorce. I have just
laid out three of the most common methods for dividing up time in a 50/50
custody split. Take what you know and apply it to actual driving time.
In Houston, Katy, The Woodlands or anywhere nearby. Is a 50/50 split the
most effective use of your time? Are you able to call it quality time
if you spend most of it in the car?

The other consideration that I would ask that you think about is how well
do you co-parent with your ex-spouse? Do you all have difficulty putting
your own issues aside and thinking about what is best for your child?
Does every disagreement turn into a war of words? If communication is
difficult for you all I would not recommend a 50/50 split in custody.
The reason being is that there is a lot of coordination when it comes
to parents who divide their time in this manner with their child. Parents
who cannot even manage to text message each other effectively probably
ought not to go with a 50/50 split.

As with any subject that we cover here on our blog there is a lot more
information to share than we have space for. If you have questions, consider
speaking to one of our attorneys today.

Questions about 50/50 splits in custody? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

If today’s blog post left you with any additional questions please
feel free to
contact the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys work with people just like you from
across our community everyday to help them achieve whatever goals they
may have. If you are either beginning your divorce or are just considering
one, our attorneys are a great resource to ask questions of and receive
honest answers and responses. We take great pride in representing our
clients and would do the same for you and your family.

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