Most parents in California who are going through a divorce want to do what is in the best interests of their children when it comes to custody and visitation. However, sometimes, it can be difficult to determine what those best interests are.
Pitfalls of 50/50 custody
Many families today aim for a joint physical custody arrangement. This can seem like the best solution because it gives the child plenty of time with both parents. It can also feel as though it is the fair solution from the parents’ point of view. However, in some cases, this can lead to a situation where the child starts to feel emotionally responsible for one or both parents’ well-being if the idea of “fairness” trumps everything else.
While in some cases the custody and visitation schedule is determined by a family law judge, parents may also have the option to make their own decision about the schedule. One solution might be for the parent who is primarily responsible for caregiving to have primary custody with a substantial amount of visitation time for the other parent. This can give the child a stable sense of having one “home” even if they spend a lot of time with the other parent as well. If parents do agree to aim for splitting the child’s time 50/50 or close to that, they both need to take precautions against placing an undue emotional burden on the child. They may also want to take the child’s own wishes into consideration, particularly if the child is older.
In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all arrangement that can be applied to every family. Parents should prioritize their child’s needs, and they should be flexible in case a schedule does not seem to be working for their child.