50/50 Parenting Time: Is This What’s Best for Children?
In recent years, there has been a definite shift toward parents wanting to have equal parenting time with their children after a divorce. In fact, many states have already adopted co-parenting as the default arrangement in child custody cases, putting the burden of proof on either party to show that this arrangement is not in the best interests of the child. While 50/50 parenting may sound great in theory – the children get to be with both parents for an equal amount of time during the year – in practice, it may not always be the best arrangement for the parties involved.
Equal parenting is a wonderful concept, and proponents of this arrangement are well-intentioned. The idea behind it is that kids are always better off when both parents are heavily involved in their lives. And 50/50 parenting seeks to replicate, as much as possible, what it would have been like for the children had the parents stayed together.
There are unintended consequences of the co-parenting arrangement, however, and careful consideration needs to be given to each family’s unique circumstances before going down this road. As a divorce mediator, I work very closely with my clients to thoroughly examine all important factors to help determine if this arrangement really makes sense for their situation.
In this excellent blog posting, Roseann Vanella writes about how 50/50 parenting works and some potential problems with 50/50 parenting.
Though 50/50 parenting arrangements can work well in some instances, there are other cases in which it is not the best approach. For parents, it is important to focus on the needs of their children, rather than asserting their “rights” or meeting their own emotional or financial needs. There is no “one size fits all” approach that is best for everyone, and this is where mediation can be very helpful.
With divorce mediation, parents work together in a cooperative rather than combative environment to reach the settlement that works best for them. This helps eliminate the “I win you lose” mindset, shifting the focus to win-win settlements that benefit everyone. And with the mediation process, parents are in control of the final outcome, rather than the courts. This allows them to come up with more unique and creative approaches that better fit their specific situation.