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.