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Considering 50/50 custody schedules? How to choose the best for you

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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

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 50/50 custody 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.

Learn more about parallel parenting.

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.

Your availability

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 and Moms for Shared Parenting

I have long argued that equal parenting time for single parents is an untapped opportunity to stem fatherlessness and gender inequality.

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.

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My 50/50 custody schedule transformation

A few years ago, I wrote this:

After one meeting with my ex and our lawyers to negotiate the custody agreement of our divorce, I went home, busted out the calculator, and cried.

I freaked out at the idea of being away from my kids for extended hours or days, and I need to know how many hours each week I would spend with my son and daughter under various arrangements.

How many hours they would be sleeping, in day care and with their dad? How many minutes each week would they be mine? When we separated, I was pregnant and my daughter was not quite 2.

I subscribed to many tenets of attachment parenting. I was used to being with my tiny children the vast majority of the time, running errands with one or the other strapped to my chest, their tiny bodies cozied up to mine in bed, the little one would nurse at least a year like his sister.

Anything less than that seemed devastating. They needed me so, so much, I thought. And I needed them.

Fast-forward three years, and when my ex texts to say he’s skipping a visit for reasons well within his control (a party, volunteer work, a last-minute weekend trip to California), I lose my mind.

I get crazy-angry at his cavalier approach to parenting and how that affects the kids. I resent being taken for granted, as if I were a babysitter on-call 24/7, and unpaid. I also resent that I don’t get my scheduled kid-free time.

Those hours are a precious commodity I fully utilize to nurture friendships, date, work, exercise and relax. When the kids come home Sunday evening from their weekly overnight, we are all so happy to see each other and I can feel in my whole body how much more energy I have for them.

Never in a bazillion years would I have imagined I’d feel like that.

When you share parenting with your ex, and take steps to truly co-parent in a positive way, only good things happen:

  1. It is best for kids, for one.
  2. You stop fighting (as much), since there isn’t that much to fight over. This frees up so much psychic and emotional energy.
  3. Now that the kids are happily with their dad half the time, you are now free to build that career, date, spend time with friends, travel without children (my fav), eat a sandwich without being interrupted by being begged for a bite, or simply chill out.
  4. This does so many great things for gender equality: your kids see that both genders are equal parents, you are no longer burdened by the expectations to be the full-time homemaker/mom and, are now freer to earn and grow a business and career. Others are watching you and your success. You inspire the world around you.

50/50 custody schedules FAQs

What is the most common child custody arrangement?

According to Molly Rosenblum, founding attorney of The Rosenblum Allen Law Firm in Las Vegas, joint physical custody is the most common and preferred custody arrangement by law. 

Joint physical custody, also called shared physical custody, means that your child spends time living with both parents.

Rosenblum says that at her firm, which handles family law, criminal defense and civil cases, about 25% of cases are either primary physical or sole physical custody.

What is the best custody arrangement for an infant?

Because of their need for consistent sleep and feeding schedules, infants may be better off primarily spending nights with Parent A, while Parent B takes the child for daytime visits until the child is old enough to adapt to a changing schedule.

What age is best for week-on, week-off custody?

Rosenblum believes week on/week off custody is a tough schedule. 

“I will confess I am not a big fan,” she says. 

However, Rosenblum advises it’s best for children 12 and older. At that pre-teen/teen stage, she says children can better handle the transitions from week to week.

“It is a long time between seeing parents for younger children,” Rosenblum says. “It can also cause issues with holidays and how vacation time is counted.” 

Are there any other 50/50 custody schedules to consider?

These are two other common 50/50 custody schedules, according to Alexandra Cromer, a Licensed Professional Counselor from Thriveworks in Richmond, VA. 

  • 2-2-5-5: In this arrangement, children spend two nights with Parent A, then two nights with parent B, followed by five nights in a row with each parent. This allows each parent to spend a long weekend with the kids. However, this routine lacks consistency and it can be harder to keep track of which days the child is switching homes. 
  • 3-3-4-4: Both Parent A and B have the child for three days each, followed by each parent having the child for four days each. In this arrangement, however, one parent will consistently have the children more weekend days than the other.

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

The best way to make a 50/50 custody schedule is with Our Family Wizard, the leading co-parenting app. Features:

  • Free 30-day trial
  • Create co-parenting schedule, keep track of missed visits, submit to courts
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  • Add all other people for FREE: children, attorney, step-parents, grandparents, babysitters

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What is the best 50/50 schedule?

Many parents choose the alternating weeks schedule due to its simplicity and alternating weekends.

What is the most common child custody arrangement?

According to Molly Rosenblum, founding attorney of The Rosenblum Allen Law Firm in Las Vegas, joint physical custody is the most common and preferred custody arrangement by law. Joint physical custody, also called shared physical custody, means that your child spends time living with both parents.

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