Parents who follow a 50/50 custody schedule split time with their children as evenly as possible. This type of schedule is for parents with joint physical custody or shared physical custody.
There are many perks to a 50/50 custody schedule. It allows your child to develop close bonds with both parents (essential to their emotional well-being), ensures more equality in parenting responsibility and could even benefit your wallet.
It can be tricky to find the right schedule for you and your little ones. With built-in 50/50 custody schedule templates and options for customization, a co-parenting app could help you build the best schedule for your family.
Keep reading for our list of typical schedules for 50/50 custody and things to consider when choosing a schedule.
- The top 50/50 custody schedules
- How to choose the right schedule for your family
- 50/50 holiday custody schedules
- Bottom line: What is the best 50/50 custody schedule?
The top 50/50 custody schedules
The following are the most common equal parenting schedules, which is the type of schedule is for parents with joint physical custody or shared physical custody:
1. The alternating weeks custody schedule
The alternating weeks schedule (also called a 7/7 schedule) has your child spending one week in one parent's home, then spending a week with the other. This rotation repeats throughout the year.
This is the schedule my kids' dad and I adhere to — along with splitting holiday breaks and summer vacation — all equally.
2. 2-2-3 custody schedule
With the 2-2-3 schedule, your child lives with one parent for two days of the week, spends the next 2 days with the other parent, and then returns to the first parent for three. The next week it switches.
3. 2-2-5-5 custody schedule
The 2-2-5-5 is popular as a 50/50 joint custody schedule with alternating weekends. However, it can also split each weekend between parents, depending on when you choose to start the schedule.
Your child lives two days with one parent, then two days with the other parent, followed by five days with the first parent, and five days with the second parent.
4. Every extended weekend custody schedule
The every-extended-weekend schedule is a residential schedule where the child spends weekdays with one parent and weekends with the other. The weekend would begin on a Friday after school and end Monday morning when the kids are dropped off for school.
This would typically give the parent with weekdays 60 percent of the time and the other parent 40 percent, but if you account for the time the child spends at school, it becomes a 50/50 custody schedule.
How to choose a 50/50 custody schedule
Consider the following factors when choosing a schedule.
Your children's ages
Children's needs vary. You'll want to choose a schedule that suits their age group.
- Babies: Avoid disrupting sleep, feeding schedules and bonding time, but make sure they have frequent contact with each parent. An alternating-weeks schedule with short visits for the noncustodial parent sprinkled throughout the week could work.
- Toddlers: Allow the child to spend ample time with each parent. A schedule like the 2-2-3 allows the child to see each parent throughout the week and on alternating weekends.
- School-aged (6 to 12 years): Account for study time and extracurriculars. With an every-extended-weekend schedule, your child won't have to worry about switching homes during the school week.
- Teenagers: A typical 50/50 custody schedule for teens is the alternating-weeks schedule. The weekly exchanges between homes make it easier for them to concentrate on school and their social life, work and extracurriculars.
When you begin a schedule, pay attention to how your child adjusts. If you notice their grades falling or that they become anxious whenever it's time for an exchange, you may need to make some changes.
Distance between parents' homes
If you live a significant distance away from the other parent, it's best to limit exchanges. Some parents decide to allow one parent to keep the child for the majority of the school year while the other has them for the entirety of summer break.
Your relationship with the other parent
A 50/50 custody schedule requires cooperation. Before you commit to a schedule, discuss how you'll handle exchanges and unexpected changes to the schedule. If you don't have the most amicable relationship, you could hire a parenting coordinator to make decisions for you when you're at odds or to help improve communication.
Most 50/50 custody schedules require parents to share in the responsibility of transporting the child to and from school, between sports practice and any other extracurriculars. Some parents argue that equal parenting time is not compatible with their workload or other commitments.
“I argue that parents have a moral, legal and financial obligation to share parenting time equally. Hundreds of studies find that equal parenting schedules are best for children, and my own research concluded that equal parenting schedules correlate with higher earning for single moms.” — Emma Johnson, founder Wealthysinglemommy.com and Moms for Shared Parenting
Also, think of what you'll do when you're unavailable to watch your child during your custody time (e.g., doctor's appointments). Will you hire a babysitter? Take your child to a daycare center? Ask the other parent to take the child? Engage a grandparent or other relative?
50/50 holiday custody schedules
A holiday custody schedule is a vital part of your visitation arrangement. With 50/50 custody, it's typical for parents to alternate holidays based on even- and odd-numbered years. For example, Dad could have the kids on Christmas Day in even-numbered years and Mom could have the holiday in odd-numbered years.
Another holiday custody schedule option is to split the day of the holiday in half. However, while it may seem fair to the children and parents to get equal time on holidays, traffic and other conditions could cut into your quality time.
Bottom line: What is the best 50/50 schedule?
Many parents choose the alternating weeks schedule due to its simplicity and alternating weekends. However, what works for others may not work for you. The best 50/50 custody schedule is the schedule that:
- Accommodates your child's needs, age and maturity
- Fits your schedule and availability
- Allows both parents to spend quality time with the kids
- Doesn't cause frequent disagreements
- Will work for years to come
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Many parents choose the alternating weeks schedule due to its simplicity and alternating weekends.