Often one or both separating parents when faced with coming up with a parenting plan and time-sharing arrangement for their children like the idea of each having the children half of the time. This is commonly referred to as a 50-50 timeshare and sometimes as 50-50 custody – although the latter is really a misnomer.
One should think carefully before agreeing to a 50-50 schedule because nothing necessarily says that this is best for the children (or even for the parents). There are often problems with 50-50 time sharing.
However, since many parents want to at least explore the possibility of a 50-50 arrangement, what are some ways to do so? Many different ways have been developed. A number of these (and I think the most common ones) are given below. They can be grouped into four categories:
- alternating a given time period (e.g. every other day)
- a 50-50 weekly schedule that is repeated
- a 50-50 bi-weekly schedule that is repeated
- an irregular schedule that nonetheless results in 50/50 over the course of a year
Alternating a time period
Parents can alternate time with the children every day, every X number of days, every week, every two weeks or even longer. When the time period is fairly long, often a brief visit with the other parent is inserted. For example, when the parents have the children every other week, the parent without the children may have them one weekday evening for dinner.
A 50-50 weekly schedule that is repeated
Here are some weekly schedules for parent A and parent B:
- alternate days and then split time in half on the 7th day
- 3 days with A, then 3 days with B, and then split the 7th day
- 2 days with A, then 2 days with B, then 1 day with A, then 1 day with B, and then split the 7th day
- 2 days with A, then 3 days with B, then 1 day with A, and then split the 7th day
- half the week with A and then half the week with B
Predictability is an important component of any parenting schedule and usually this is achieved by setting up a fixed schedule that is then repeated.
A 50-50 bi-weekly schedule that is repeated
Here are some bi-weekly schedules for parent A and parent B:
- Each parent gets the same 3 days each week; alternate the other day
- Each parent gets the same half of the school week each week; alternate on the weekends
- 4 days with A, then 4 days with B, then 3 days with A, then 3 days with B
- 2 days with A, then 2 days with B, then 5 days with A, then 5 days with B
- 2 days with A, then 2 days with B, then 3 days with A, then 2 days with B, then 2 days with A, then 3 days with B
Irregular schedule but 50-50 for the year
There are an unlimited number of ways to square up to a 50-50 timeshare over the course of a year. As an example, say parent A has the children for 3 of the 7 days each school week for say 38 school weeks. Parent A has the children for 38 less days during this period. In the non-school weeks, Parent A could be given a total of 38 more days with the children than parent B to accomplish a 50-50 timeshare for the year.
There are of course many other ways to accomplish a 50-50 timeshare. Some couples work out a plan at the hourly level (with many partial days for each parent) and try to make the total hours with each parent equal.