How To Prevent 50-50 Custody
September 17, 2022
Joint physical or legal custody is not always the best solution for a child. After all, there are different circumstances in life. If you're trying to avoid 50-50 custody, here's what you need to know.

The coParenter Team

Joint physical or legal custody is not always the best solution for a child. After all, there are different circumstances in life.

Before learning how to fight for 50-50 custody, parents should consider the pros and cons.

Below we will look at four types of childcare and when each is in the child’s best interests. You will also learn why 50-50 custody is not always an appropriate option and how to avoid joint custody.

Types of Custody

Childcare is divided into two types: sole custody and joint custody. During sole custody, the child lives with the responsible parent, and only one parent has the right to make decisions regarding the child. Shared custody allows the custodial parent and non-custodial parent to participate equally in the child’s life. 

The most common and preferred childcare by most courts is shared custody. However, custody types are also divided into subtypes, depending on parental rights. Parents can combine subtypes to ensure proper child care when choosing child custody.

Joint physical custody

During joint physical custody, the child takes turns living with both parents. They can split the week down the middle or alternate weeks. The main custody principle is that the child physically spends time with each parent.

In legal practice, joint physical custody is also called split or shared custody.

Joint legal custody

Parents are also equally involved in their children’s lives during joint legal custody. However, unlike the first subtype, both parents share primary decision-making authority for their children.

A family court often assigns joint physical and legal custody simultaneously so that parents share the same responsibilities for their children.

Sole physical custody

In the case of sole physical custody, the child lives with one parent all the time. And the other parent may have visitation rights. Depending on the child custody circumstances, a third party may supervise the visitation process.

Sole legal custody

This type of child custody allows only one partner to make decisions for the child’s well-being. These can be solutions ranging from the child’s education to toy purchases.

In the case of sole custody, the court often assigns physical and legal custody to one parent to simplify the childcare process and avoid possible disputes.

When does joint custody not work?

Although many family law lawyers and psychologists advise co-parents to consider joint custody first, each family case is unique, and spouses should decide based on their personal circumstances. In addition, there are several contraindicating factors when parents can not have 50-50 custody. The judge reviews them when making the final decree.

Parents have constant disagreements

Divorce is often the result of conflicts and bad relationships between spouses. It prevents the parents from cooperating and resolving issues related to the kids’ custody. For example, questions about who pays for a dentist’s services, a school trip, or what clothes to buy can lead to disputes. In this case, the parties involved should consider sole legal custody so that only one parent will have the right to decide for the child.

Parents live far from each other

During 50-50 custody, co-parents share legal and physical custody equally. It means the child spends the same amount of time with both parents. However, if the parents live in different states or countries, joint custody may be impossible or lead to constant difficulties. After all, it can be challenging for a child to adapt to a new place and attend school.

It is hard for kids to live in two houses

Some children need a stable home environment. However, constant moving and changing schedules can cause children emotional stress and exacerbate diseases. For example, one such illness is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For a child with ADHD, parents should consider the proper custody solution in the child’s best interests to help the child accept divorce more quickly.

Parents have incompatible work schedules

Shared physical custody is the best option when both parties have a predictable work schedule. But it is challenging to make a stable parenting plan when one of the parents can not clearly manage their time.

A co-parent is “unfit”

Equal co-parenting is not the best option when one of the parents can not take care of the child’s welfare and be responsible for decision-making. In this case, the “inappropriate” parent must be recognized from a legal point of view but not because of the personal hatred of the other parent.

Reasons for preventing joint custody can include mental illness, abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, prostitution, abandonment, other negative consequences, and dangerous behavior that can harm the child.

If one of the parties insists that the spouse is unfit for custody based on any of the reasons listed above, they will have to prove it. Proof can be social services records, police records, witnesses’ testimonies, letters, etc.

Child Age is Inappropriate

Primary custody is not fit for couples who have a newborn child. The baby takes a long time to care for. And if a mother is breastfeeding her baby, it adds more complexity. Of course, if desired, parents can have 50-50 custody, but it may not be in the child’s best interest.

How To Avoid 50-50 Custody

One of the best ways to avoid a 50/50 custody split is through a mutual agreement before going to court. After all, when the case falls into the judge’s hands, they will consider the divorce and custody case under the state laws.

Parents on good terms can decide on custody and make a parenting plan independently. But they need to discuss each parent’s responsibilities, visitation, child support, reimbursement, and what type of custody they prefer.

If both parties can not negotiate for some reason, they can use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The ADR process allows partners to resolve disputes without the help of a family law attorney or trial. The most common types of alternative dispute resolution are collaborative family law and mediation.

A mediator or lawyer listens to both parties during negotiations and proposes a compromise. If it satisfies both parents, they sign the agreement. 

Also, during negotiations, parents can hire independent specialists. For example, financial experts can help assess each side’s parenting opportunities.

The decision proposed by the mediator is not mandatory. It is only a recommendation for resolving the custody issue. Therefore, parents are not required to sign it if they don’t want to.

If there is a specific reason the parents can not fulfill the responsibilities of joint custody in good faith, they should provide evidence. At the same time, the reason for refusing shared custody does not have to be abuse or cruelty. For example, it may be related to a move.

Final Words

Parents should consider their children’s best interests and desires, rather than personal preferences, when choosing the type of childcare. After all, custody is not only about who the child will live with but under what conditions.

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