There’s a big difference between having legal custody and having physical custody of your children. In this blog, we’re talking about securing 50/50 physical custody. Physical Custody is measured by how many nights a child spends in the parent’s home. If you have 50/50 custody, your child will spend 183, or 182, nights at your home per year. How often the child will go back and forth may depend on what works best for your children, you and their other parent. However, if you cannot agree on a parent-time schedule, the court will have to decide what the schedule will look like. In this case, the court may adopt the statutory parent-time schedule, a parent-time schedule recommended by a custody evaluator, or some other parent-time schedule it finds is in the best interest of your minor children.
The Child’s Best Interests
When making a decision about how much parent-time each party will have, the court is going to make an order based on what’s in the children’s best interest. In most cases, it’s in the best interest of the children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. This means that, in the majority of cases, those who have been involved in the child’s life, and are fit parents, will get some custody—provided that they want it. However, since having a stable environment is an important part of a child’s best interests, it may be difficult to get significant amounts of parent-time if you have significant constraints limiting your ability to provide predictable, routine, or consistent care for your children..
What Else Do Courts Consider?
There are a lot of things that go into deciding what’s in the best interests of the child. The judge must consider different factors in determining physical custody. These factors are called the custody factors and can vary depending on how much parent-time you’re asking for. For example, the court will want to know how much care each party provided to the child during the marriage. They’ll also want to know how involved with the child’s day-to-day routine each parent was during the marriage, and who the child bonded with. Proximity is another factor that courts consider when determining custody arrangements. The courts and evaluators will want the parties to live within close proximity for a 50/50 parent-time arrangement. In most cases, “close proximity” means within 30 minutes of the other parent, or a location such as the child’s school. This enables the child to have access to friends and school while preventing the child from having to spend a lot of time in the car. Another key factor the court considers is whether the parents are able to effectively co-parent and foster a positive relationship with the other parent.
Know How Much Custody You Want
It’s important to determine as early as possible how much parent-time you want and are capable of exercising. Knowing how much custody you want earlier in the process can help you prioritize what you’re willing to spend time and money on. Since custody is one of the most important issues in a divorce, you’ll want to make sure you have a plan for what you’re willing to give up or negotiate on in order to get the right amount of custody. Also, if you’re separated, and you want 50/50 custody, you need to make sure that you’re actively taking care of the children and participating in their day-to-day activities. If your ex is refusing to let you see the children, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. If you spend too much time without any parent-time with the children, it may be difficult to convince a judge that you should have an equal parent-time schedule. Remember, the longer you’ve been abiding by an arrangement, the more difficult it will be to change—even if there’s no custody order in place.
Custody Orders May Be Difficult to Change
When you’re making a decision on how much custody you want, it’s important to consider the child’s best interests. There are some instances where the child isn’t necessarily better off with 50/50 custody. Judges are often reluctant to change custody orders since it may interfere with the child’s well-being. This is especially true when the child is happy and thriving in the original custody arrangement. Some parents choose not to fight over custody during the divorce, thinking that they can go back and modify the custody order later. However, this is not always the case.
Is It Impossible to Get 50/50?
Obtaining a 50/50 parent-time schedule isn’t uncommon because it’s hard to get. Usually, one party agrees to stop fighting for equal parent-time in exchange for other concessions in resolving a divorce or custody arrangement. But there are cases where a judge may not award 50/50 custody. Where there’s parental alienation, substance abuse, child abuse, or a disability that would affect a party’s ability to effectively care for a child, a person may have a difficult time getting 50/50 custody. A parent that hasn’t been actively engaged with the children or their care prior to litigation should not expect the court to grant them equal parent-time with the children. This can also happen if a person has a job with long or unpredictable hours, or a job that forces them to travel a lot.
Hire an Attorney
At CoilLaw, our attorneys are committed to advocating for you and protecting your rights. If you’re going through a divorce, and you’re concerned about how much custody you’re going to get, you need a reputable and experienced attorney who will help you get the right amount of parent-time for you and your children. If you’re ready to file for divorce, contact CoilLaw today.